Bay Area Apple Store thefts may be linked, police say

Police on Thursday arrested a suspect in the death of a San Francisco city worker who was fatally shot wile trying to remove graffiti.

- Police suspect a group of robbers is targeting Apple stores all over the Bay Area after five incidents in the past week alone.

Investigators say the description is similar--a group of young men in their late teens or early 20s wearing hooded sweatshirts--with the criminals busting into Apple stores and grabbing the display models in less than a minute before escaping in waiting cars.

And investigators worry the crimes are escalating because of what happened Wednesday night.

On Thursday, a security guard was posted on the corner outside the downtown Burlingame Apple store.
The most recent heist happened here around 7:45 Wednesday night just as the store was closing.
 
"That really surprises me--you wouldn't expect that to happen here," said customer Andra Lutai.
 
Police say 6-10 young men wearing hooded sweatshirts rushed in and in about 45 seconds stole $20,000 worth of iPads and iPhones from the display tables they were tethered to.
 
"That just seems brazen to do the exact thing that just happened! That's shocking to me," said Burlingame resident Angelina Bruno.
 
It's the third time the Burlingame store has been hit in about a month.

Only this time, the robbers pushed 2 security guards to the ground and unsuccessfully tried to take a gun from one of the guards.
 
"It demonstrates the brazenness of these individuals. The frequency of them does tend to indicate that it's an organized group," said Burlingame Police Department Lieutenant Jay Kiley.

At least 11 similar crimes involving a hooded group of young men has happened at Bay Area Apple stores since late October.

3 in San Francisco, 3 in Berkeley and 3 robberies in Burlingame, along with one in Los Gatos and one in Corte Madera.
 
After robbers rushed the Apple store in Corte Madera on Black Friday, Apple customer Susan Bonetto in a social media post wrote:

"4 or 5 young men in hoodies came into the store and quickly grabbed most of the phones from the front display tables- pulling or breaking the cords that keep them secure."

In San Francisco, the Apple store on Chestnut Street was also robbed on Black Friday and then hit again the following Tuesday night, the same night robbers also rushed the Apple store on Stockton Street.

In Berkeley, police say the Apple store was targeted 3 times in one week in early November by young men wearing hooded sweatshirts.

Police say a uniformed officer is now at that store seven days a week.

KTVU reached out to an Apple spokesman Nick Leahy who said, "We don't comment on matters of security."
 
"It just keeps happening," said Burlingame resident Angelina Bruno. "It's really strange to feel that unsafe in a town that used to feel so safe."
 
Burlingame police say they plan to meet with Apple security next week to discuss possibly Apple paying for an officer to patrol the store.

A crew out of Oakland was running a similar Apple store robbery scheme earlier this year and they were eventually caught.


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