California flash mobs looted multiple stores over the weekend

A flash mob was originally a way to describe a group of people who’d planned some kind of public surprise, usually entertaining but always harmless. But this weekend, residents of California experienced flash mobs who were clearly organized with bad intent. It apparently started Friday night with the looting of a Luis Vuitton store in San Francisco. This video shows one man running away while police stop looters in a car.

The Luis Vuitton store was cleared out but that was just the tip of the iceberg. San Francisco’s District 11 Supervisor, Ahsha Safai told ABC 7 that over $1 million dollars worth of merchandise was stolen from the Union Square area that night. The same thieves tried to break into a Fendi store but were chased away by police.

The situation was serious enough that Mayor London Breed made a statement the next day warning that this type of crime does a lot more damage than just broken glass. The theft potentially puts retailers out of business which means people lose their jobs and the city ears less revenue.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the flash looting. Saturday night, a group of approximately 80 people rushed into a Nordstrom’s in Walnut Creek, CA, which is east of Oakland.

About 80 people rushed into the store in the city’s Broadway Plaza, a police spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that an employee was pepper-sprayed and that two others were punched and kicked. All three sustained minor injuries and were treated and released at the scene, the spokesperson said.

The whole thing was over in a couple of minutes but a local news reporter happened to be there and captured video of the looters’ cars blocking the street.

Out of the estimated 80 looters, just three people were arrested. Two were from San Francisco and one was from Oakland. The same reporter got video of one car being stopped by a police officer:

Sunday, Walnut Creek PD warned retailers that there was concern the same group might be planning more looting:

Indeed, there was another flash mob looting a mall on Sunday night. This time it took place in Hayward, CA just south of Oakland and the thieves focused their efforts on a jewelry store:

Here’s the aftermath:

Buried at the very bottom of the Washington Post story on the weekend looting spree was this comment about why this might be happening:

Jim Dudley, a retired San Francisco Police officer who now teaches criminal justice at San Francisco State University, said the burglaries might be the result of a “perfect storm” created by corporations and policymakers in California, where many retailers have “no chase” policies regarding shoplifters and where at least $950 of merchandise must be stolen for state prosecutors to press felony charges.

Obviously the looting in San Francisco Friday night would exceed $950 per person by quite a bit but it’s hard to argue that something has changed in the past few years which has removed a disincentive to burglary.