BERKELEY, Calif. - A popular activewear store was burglarized in Berkeley after thieves backed a vehicle into the store Tuesday morning.
The crime happened at a lululemon store situated at 1901 4th and Hearst streets.
A store security guard, who requested to remain anonymous, said that he was inside the lululemon store when a loud noise startled him.
"This big boom, and then this door came down and all these people started hopping out," he said.
The suspects deliberately reversed their vehicle into the store, shattering the glass entrance.
The guard reported that six people, all wearing black hoodies and masks, exited the vehicle and proceeded to ransack the store. The suspects stuffed the stolen merchandise into both the backseat and trunk of their vehicle, according to the guard.
"It was scary," he said.
He said the suspects threatened to shoot him if he called 911, though he never saw an actual firearm.
"I just stood there and let them do what they were doing," the guard said. "They came for one mission, which is to take the stuff and get out."
He said the suspects managed to do it all within five minutes.
The suspects fled the scene and got away.
The security guard was not physically harmed during the incident, though he was shaken by the ordeal.
It is not the only store that was hit this week. Other store managers around the Fourth Street shopping area are frustrated.
About a mile away from the lululemon, Rad Power Bikes was also hit on Monday just after one in the morning.
"We had just literally finished getting the glass replaced and getting an additional security film installed," said General Manager Manny Ruiz.
Ruiz said it’s the second time burglars have been successful at his store in the last four weeks. "We had about 4 individuals smash this glass and very quickly cut through our cable locks and get away with four of our bikes."
But they’ve tried before. "They attempted also while there was a security guard in the building. The security guard was able to scare them away but even with the security guard they’ll still attempt," he said.
Ruiz said this time they lost up to $7,000 on the bikes. It costs the store another $3,700 to fix the glass.
"It’s frustrating," said Ruiz. "It’s more of a sense of anxiety – and all the preparations we have to put in place just to secure our facility."
Police said they’re working to combat retail theft along Fourth Street but like most departments, they’re short staffed.
Last week, Berkeley Police arrested six people trying to steal thousands of dollars worth of make up from the Sephora on fourth street. Police caught the suspects in action, still in the store.
As far as Rad Power Bikes goes, Ruiz is looking into innovative ways to secure his property. "We’ll have to go the route of installing gates around our facility," he said.
A company spokesperson from Rad Power Bikes told KTVU in a statement, "We are closely cooperating with local authorities to aid in their investigation."
Similarly, a company spokesperson from lululemon said in a statement, "The safety and well-being of our employees and guests is lululemon’s top priority. We take thefts and vandalism very seriously and continue to follow our protocols for responding to these incidents, including working closely with law enforcement. We will continue to monitor the situation, provide support to our employees, and cooperate with local partners and authorities."
The city of Berkeley did not receive any grant funding from the state for retail crime. Despite that, police are looking into long term solutions for this shopping area.