About 80 people, some wearing ski masks and wielding crow bars, ransacked a high-end department store in the San Francisco Bay Area, stealing merchandise before fleeing in cars waiting outside, police and witnesses said.
Three people were arrested while the majority got away after the large-scale theft Saturday night shocked shoppers at the Nordstrom in Walnut Creek, police said.
NBC Bay Area reporter Jodi Hernandez tweeted that she saw the thieves rush into the store in the downtown shopping district in the city some 32km northeast of San Francisco.
“About 25 cars just blocked the street and rushed into the Walnut Creek Nordstrom, making off with goods before getting in cars and speeding away,” Hernandez said on Twitter.
Video from the scene shows masked people streaming out of the store, carrying bags and boxes, jumping into the cars and speeding away.
Brett Barrette, the manager of a nearby PF Chang’s restaurant, began locking doors at his establishment while watching the chaos unfold.
“We probably saw 50 to 80 people in ski masks, crowbars, a bunch of weapons,” Barrette told ABC 7 News.
The Walnut Creek Police Department said a firearm was recovered from one of the three arrested suspects, ABC 7 reported.
The incident was first reported around 8.45pm while the store was still open. Police officials couldn’t immediately be reached Sunday morning, but a dispatcher said the department was preparing a news release.
No injuries were reported. Nobody answered the phone at the Nordstrom Sunday morning.
The incident came a day after several high-end stores in San Francisco’s Union Square were broken into by a large group of people who smashed windows, stole merchandise, and then ran to waiting cars, police said.
Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, and Dolce & Gabbana were all targeted Friday night, Fox 2 News reported.
San Francisco Police Officer Robert Rueca said in a statement posted on social media that officers responded to reports of possible looting and vandalism at Union Square stores Friday night and arrested several people.
Stores in Union Square, a posh shopping district popular with tourists, have been targeted for years by well-organised thieves who at times have rammed vehicles into storefronts to break glass doors and windows and enter the buildings during non-business hours.
In July, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that allows prosecutors to charge those who work with others to steal merchandise.
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