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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Organized theft gangs hitting suburbs including Pleasanton

Uploaded: Aug 17, 2021
San Francisco has made lots of headlines over the last couple of years for a lot of the wrong reasons.
Two national chains shuttered stores because of the rampant theft. CVS shut two stores around Market St. and Walgreen’s closed 17 outlets in San Francisco. Thieves are filling up shopping carts and walking out the front door, ignoring clerks’ shouts to stop. And then there’s the infamous heist at Neiman Marcus’ luxury store on Union Square. About 10 people wearing hoodies and facemasks cleaned out designer handbags and ran out the front door to three waiting cars.
Property crime has exploded in San Francisco since state law was changed in 2018, setting the limit for misdemeanors at $950. Previously it was $500. Throw in the factor that many district attorneys, particularly progressive ones such as the San Francisco DA, will not pursue charges.
Sadly, it’s not limited to San Francisco. Out-of-town gangs of thieves are coming into the suburbs to pull off similar crimes. Matt Richert, owner of Richert Lumber ACE Hardware on Sunol Boulevard, has seen his power tools pilfered on several occasions. Thieves grab a shopping cart, fill it with tools and then walk out the door, ignoring employees who are yelling at them to stop. They have a getaway car with driver waiting.
Richert said often the license plate is taped over. When police have traced plates, they find the thieves are driving into the valley from the San Joaquin Valley. It’s clear they are organized thieves who know that power tools are easily fenced.
Richert praised the Pleasanton police who have been responsive. Like most retailers, he’s instructed his employees not to pursue or engage with the thieves because he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. Naturally, that frustrated everyone. The stolen stuff is covered by insurance. The organized theft has led him to continue with just one way into the store—the traditional entrance has been closed since the shutdown.
It's not limited to just Richert, which is located pretty close to I-680. A friend told me the Safeway on Bernal, also right by the freeway, has seen people load up shopping carts with liquor and wine and walk out into the parking lot.
Further north of I-680, the city of Walnut Creek and Nordstrom are being proactive. The San Francisco Business Times reported the agreed to station two uniformed officers inside the store. Nordstrom will pay the costs and officers will work overtime shifts to handle the extra duties. The officers are designed to deter shoplifting or worse such as the gang-organized trashing of Neiman Marcus on Union Square in downtown San Francisco.
I remember the images from the summer of 2020 riots from Broadway Plaza in downtown Walnut Creek. Twenty to 30 thieves were breaking into storefronts while two lonely police officers hung back and watched. The cops were hopelessly outnumbered and, short of pulling weapons and shooting people, there was nothing they could do. And, it obviously was not worth taking a life.
What’s clear is that the law change encouraged crime and needs to be revisited. Gov. Gavin Newsom did sign a new law that established a $500 limit if it can be proven the thieves were acting as an organized gang—a pretty high bar for a non-violent crime.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Lahommed, a resident of Dublin,
on Aug 17, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Lahommed is a registered user.

All this can be avoided if our DA's would prosecute criminals for theft regardless of the amount. If we did not have police budgets cut and talk of defunding the police it would help. If corporate America would allow their store security to do their jobs it would help. America has become a reactive nation no longer proactive. So there are solutions but until those in power accept that nothing will change. Its sad and embarrassing that in 2021 we are less safe then we were in 1971,1981 1991? America wake up we are in trouble! And our police are the last line of defense from Insanity

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 17, 2021 at 4:29 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Soft on crime DAs, progressive laws, a pandemic, organized theft gangs = disaster! Sure, insurance will cover and stores are concerned about liability. As consumers, we all end up paying for this, and it needs to stop. Enough is enough.

Posted by D, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 18, 2021 at 7:20 am

D is a registered user.

The "Progressives" and their allies in the media have taken the .0001 % of police interactions with criminals that reflected bad on the police and turned our country into a pro-criminal and anti-law enforcement environment where criminals thrive and law abiding citizens suffer. The final straw is having anti-police and pro-criminal DA's like Diane Becton in Contra Costa County act like public defenders rather than do their job to represent the victims of crime. The police risk their lives every day to protect complete strangers from harm, only to watch politically motivated DA's like Diane Becton let criminals off the hook.

I blame our citizens for falling for the scheme of these "Progressive politicians" and the media, and a climate where decent law abiding folks are afraid to speak the truth, or be labeled a "racist" for supporting the police. It is time for real Americans to get a back bone, speak up, and start voting for candidates who support crime victims, and are tough on criminals. How ironic when "Progressive" Barbara Boxer was simply robbed of her cell phone, she got the FBI involved and the city of Oakland actually offered a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of her criminal. Where was the city of Oakland and their "Progressive" leaders when every week innocent victims are robbed and killed, not simply the theft of a cell phone, and all they do is talk of "de-fund the police".

Posted by cathy247, a resident of Alamo,
on Aug 18, 2021 at 11:28 am

cathy247 is a registered user.

Impeach Newsom, and get someone in there to clean house--Larry Elder is just what California needs desperately. Born and raised in So. Central LA. A self made man

Posted by Pweekly reader, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 18, 2021 at 1:01 pm

Pweekly reader is a registered user.

I don't like the rhetoric about deterring mob action not being "worth taking a life". Why not?

You just decreed this like its some obvious point of fact, or some inviolable maxim. And it isn't. Who said that mob criminals even have the right to life in the first place? Thieves are a scourge on society and most societies have very harsh punishments, historically, for theft, including death. This crosses all cultures too. It is near universal.

The real issue is that stealing, a theft, IS a very serious offense. While some may say "Its just property", let us not forget that all property represents human life. Life was expended to create that stolen item. There could be a hundred hours of labor in that product, and when you steal it, you steal 100 hours of a human life. While "insurance" might cover the losses, in the same way, the premiums cost money that someone has to earn, by exchanging some part of their life, some life-hours, to pay that premium.

Theft of property = Theft of life. Same exact thing.

Let's not delude ourselves into the fiction that just because "insurance" covers it that it wasn't the theft of SOMEONE'S life.

We need to treat attempts on the property (Life) of other's the same way we treat attempts on the PERSON (Life) of others). Because what we own and create is as much ours as our own bodies, and as limited by our time (Life) on this earth as is the very breath we take.

We only have a finite amount of time to expend in the labor and efforts of acquiring or creating property, so to steal it, is to steal our life just as a murderer cuts short the life of the victim.

Posted by Pweekly reader, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 18, 2021 at 1:03 pm

Pweekly reader is a registered user.

If a few thieve were shot and killed in these attempts, the rest would be quickly discouraged, because its not worth dying over.

I can't say enough how much I disagree with the objection to using deadly force to prevent theft.

Posted by Joe+V, a resident of Birdland,
on Aug 18, 2021 at 5:01 pm

Joe+V is a registered user.

Excellent job of getting the base fired up!
You even placed Gavin's name in the article, how convenient.

Posted by Jake+Waters, a resident of Birdland,
on Aug 18, 2021 at 9:06 pm

Jake+Waters is a registered user.

A side note to the crime that Tim Hunt has described in his piece here: it's only going to get worse. We are on a course to receive 2 million illegals from the southern border by end of this year, and due to the fiasco in Afghanistan, politicians on both sides are talking about receiving a million and more from that failed country- they are already arriving in the Bay Area. Crime is going to accelerate rapidly.

With the sentiments of the Democrats and the Left Extremists (the new liberals) they are not interested in strengthening our Police Departments anytime soon, and because of this officers are leaving these departments in high numbers. Add to that more DA's being elected throughout this country with the help of George Soros's, I believe we are facing a continuance of dark times.

Finally, the problem with not interfering or making attempts to stop the theft of ‘things' from stores regardless if a felony threshold hasn't been made will only make matters worse. Those stores who fail to enforce the law and protect there livelihood will go the way of Stoneridge Mall.

Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 18, 2021 at 9:16 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

There are very inexpensive electronic devices that can be attached to articles that are deactivated, removed when register receives payment. Devices remain active, attached when register is bypassed, that will lock down exits.

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