OAKLAND, Calif. - With Thanksgiving and Black Friday right around the corner, law enforcement said Friday that they stand ready to go after organized retail thieves while making sure shoppers are safe.
During this holiday season, merchants and consumers can expect to see an increased presence of high-visibility patrols and law enforcement,"California Highway Patrol Commissioner Sean Duryee said at a virtual news briefing.
Duryee said his agency has the ability to investigate retail theft statewide and coordinate with investigators across different jurisdictions. His message: law enforcement is organized, too.
"To the criminals who are tempted to engage in retail theft and believe this is an easy score, the deck is stacked against you," Duryee said.
Berkeley police have made some key arrests over the past week in thefts in the Fourth Street retail area.
Arglister Cheatham was arrested and charged by Alameda County prosecutors with being among four thieves who stole nearly $6,000 in gear from Lululemon.
Authorities say Cheatham was caught on video that same day returning items to the Lululemon store in Walnut Creek – where workers scanned his driver’s license.
Greg Samuel Jones was arrested and charged with stealing jackets worth more than $5,000 during three visits to the North Face store in Berkeley.
In San Francisco, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said, "We have seen an uprise in significant arrests and convictions related to retail theft."
She said a $2 million state grant is helping to fund a dedicated retail theft prosecution team.
This week, 21-year-old twins Erykah and Emoni Thomas were charged in a spree of burglaries from the Bath and Body Works store at the Westfield mall on Market Street downtown, where several stores have closed.
"When stores are forced to close due to rampant theft, our communities lose important and valuable jobs, and access to much-needed goods and services," Jenkins said.
Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at Henry.Lee@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and www.facebook.com/henrykleefan