A teen described by police as the ringleader of a grab-and-run gang that hit Victoria's Secret multiple times in recent months has been nabbed.
R'Mani Minard, 19, of San Francisco, was arrested on unrelated charges in Los Angeles County. He was brought back to Pleasanton and booked into Santa Rita Jail on Thursday.
Minard made his first court appearance this morning on 13 felony counts of commercial burglary and one felony count of robbery. He is being held without bail; no other suspects had been charged as of today.
"The total number that the group has been involved in is unclear at this point. We have four incidents at Victoria's Secret in the mall," said Pleasanton Detective Brandon Stocking. "Other agencies have other incidents."
Stocking said at least one took place at Saks Fifth Avenue at the Livermore Premium Outlets, formerly known as the Paragon Outlets. Others occurred at NewPark Mall in Newark, the Great Mall in Milpitas, and other high-end retailers throughout the Bay Area, court documents show. Police say the theft ring is responsible for more than $100,000 in thefts.
The method used in the thefts was consistent: A group of three to 10 people "boldly entered the stores carrying empty bags and removed large amounts of merchandise from the shelves before fleeing," police said.
"During each of the incidents that were reported, many of the involved individuals changed from incident to incident with the exception of Minard," Stocking said.
Minard was so well known at Victoria's Secret at Stoneridge Shopping Center that managers recognized him, according to court documents.
In one case, on May 21, a group of nine people entered the store. When confronted by a manager, Minard told her, "'Watch this,' and emptied an entire of merchandise into his bag," court documents say. "As the group ran through Macy's they continued to steal merchandise."
In that case, a woman who was apparently the slowest of a group of grab-and-run thieves at the mall was arrested May 21 after police were called to the mass shopliftings.
Brandy Denise Windom was arrested lying on top of or near the items recovered, but the other suspects got away. Windom, 18, of San Francisco was arrested at around 7:07 p.m. for burglary and receiving stolen property. Twenty jackets and 22 pairs of jeans valued at $4,023 from Macy's were recovered, along with bras and underwear valued at $654 from Victoria's Secret.
More than $1,000 in bras and panties were stolen in a March 18 grab and run by two woman and a man later identified as Minard. He was also identified in an April 15 incident in which an entire display of bras was stolen.
The most serious of the local incidents occurred April 20 when Minard and a group of six to eight others filled garbage bags with merchandise from Victoria's Secret. When Minard was confronted by an employee, he dropped his bag and left the store.
"A few seconds later, Minard aggressively re-entered the store as (the employee) was retrieving the garbage bag from the floor," court documents say.
He grabbed the bag from the woman's hands and struggled with her, saying, "This is my stuff. Give me my stuff," according to court documents, which say the woman "was overpowered and feared for her life."
That incident led to a count of robbery against Minard. He was also charged with conspiracy. Additional charges from other agencies are expected to be filed in the future.
It's unclear whether Minard was involved in a May 24 heist from the True Religion store at Livermore Premium Outlets.
Witnesses described those 10 suspects as four black men and six black women, all in their 20s. They took thousands of dollars worth of designer jeans, which can run up to $400 a pair.
The gang escaped in a red 1980s Toyota Corolla and a silver car similar to a Ford Taurus. A spokesman for True Religion said the thieves made off with about $5,000 in merchandise.