Thieves strike Hillsdale Shopping Center in latest Apple Store burglary

There is new video of three masked thieves making off with thousands of dollars in merchandise from the Apple Store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo Thursday night. Police are investigating and seeking the suspects who got away in a car.   

The latest in the recent rash of Bay Area Apple Store robberies happened around 9 p.m. While the alarms sounded, the men, who are seen on video, grabbed what they could carry and made off with more than 40 Apple devices.

This time, the target was the store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center, but last week it was the Apple store in Burlingame. Two weeks before that it was Walnut Creek.

"It's something our officers are aware of and are struggling with, I would say. Because these crews, we consider them sometimes to be violent and to be very reckless," said Lt. Matt Lethin with San Mateo Police Department.  

Reckless, they say, in targeting a crowded mall, then in this case, leading police on a multi-jurisdictional chase across the Bay Bridge in a white, four-door sedan. Eventually the thieves got away.

"I think it's very scary in the moment," said shopper Floren Tonietto. 

"It is surprising that it keeps happening. Like no one's stopping it? They just keep getting away," said another shopper Jade Ong. 

Apple employees and security guards are instructed not to engage. And even when crews are caught, San Mateo police say more quickly take their place.

They believe the passage of Prop 47 a few years ago, resulted in a reduction in penalties and an increase in these types of property crimes.

Lt. Lethin says, "I think that these organized criminal gangs for retail crime, they're aware of it. And they know that some of the sentencing has been reduced, that they have less exposure if they are arrested and prosecuted. And that does drive what they do."

In response, police from various agencies have working together to track the gang's movements. San Mateo officers say they're also offering suggestions to Apple about changes to their store layout.

Lethin says, "There are things they can do in terms of where they place their products, barriers, lighting, also the presence of video cameras."

Apple declined to comment. And while no one was injured here at the Hillsdale Shopping Center, shoppers say they'll feel safer when arrests have been made.

Ali Uccelli says, "I just say continue the security and hope that they get caught."

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