SAN FRANCISCO - Law enforcement from the state level to cities here in the Bay Area say they are cracking down on retail theft. Despite the crackdown, retail theft continues to be an ongoing problem that impacts multimillion dollar businesses and small shops alike.
Wednesday morning, burglars broke into Margaret Elizabeth jewelry store on Chestnut Street in San Francisco's Marina District, smashing display cases, and stealing merchandise.
Meg Shackleton said this is the second time her business has been targeted in the last eight months. She said it's hard enough to run a small business without the threat of thieves breaking in and stealing whatever they can grab.
"It's a huge loss, these people took tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise," said Shackleton. "But, that's also 10 days before Mother's Day our second-busiest holiday of the year."
Margaret Elizabeth is far from alone; video of brazen thefts are all too common. Now, California Attorney General Rob Bonta says the California Highway Patrol, working with local law enforcement, has taken down one of the organized retail theft rings which has victimized businesses in the South Bay.
Prosecutors secured a pair of guilty pleas from Anton Salaam and Marion Paul Tilley. The attorney general said they and their fellow thieves operated throughout the state to steal $1 million in jewelry.
"These were individuals that were breaking into Sam’s Clubs and to JCPenney's at night," said Attorney General Bonta. "There were no individuals in the store, it was after hours, the stores were closed. They were breaking into areas where jewelry was secured, stealing that jewelry and making off with it."
In San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced that an ongoing undercover operation targeting retail theft rings yielded one arrest; Allala Mouaizi and another suspect, Said Mahtout. The DA said the suspects operated out of Zain's Liquor store purchasing goods stolen from Nordstrom. Authorities said Allala Mouaizi and Said Mahtou purchased stolen goods from undercover agents on two separate occasions.
Investigators zeroed in on the pair after the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control received a tip about the suspects from the San Francisco Police Department and Nordstrom’s loss prevention team.
While news of the arrests is welcome, recent crime victims said they've lost faith that those responsible will be caught or held accountable.
Shackleton said she doesn't want to close her doors, but with two burglaries in eight months, and other businesses closing up shop, she has considered it. "We don't want to be one of those businesses. But, the city's not making it easy."
Overnight, San Francisco police confirm that a man broke a window at the Louis Vuitton store on Union Square in the city, an unsettling reminder of the thefts caught on camera November of last year