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$1 Million Organized Retail Crime Team Taken Down in California

Coordinated multi-state theft ring terrorized Apple retail stores for months.

The California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Forces, expanded by Governor Newsom in 2022, alongside multiple law enforcement agencies, have announced the takedown of a brazen organized retail crime ring responsible for the theft of more than $1 million worth of goods from Apple stores throughout multiple counties in California and beyond.

Eight people have been arrested on suspicion of taking part in the statewide retail theft operation. Based on available information, the alleged criminal conduct occurred between August 2022 and January 2023 in Yolo, Monterey, Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Riverside counties. Reports indicate that the organized retail crime teams would enter Apple stores and hold customers and employees at bay, with the perpetrators stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of smartphones and tablets during each encounter.

The investigation is the result of a collaborative multi-agency effort that included the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Theft Crimes Task Force (ORCTF), Oakland Police Department, Riverside Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) San Francisco Field Office, and the U.S. Marshal’s Office (Northern Division).

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“The California Highway Patrol’s partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies, along with our private industry, continue to result in arrests and recovery of millions of dollars in stolen products,” said California Highway Patrol, Golden Gate Division Chief Ezery Beauchamp. “I would like to recognize the incredible work done by all those involved and acknowledge the Attorney General’s Office for their ongoing support and determination to prosecute these cases.”

Each suspect faces multiple felony charges, including conspiracy to commit retail theft, organized retail theft, grand theft, theft in the amount more than $500,000, and an aggravated white-collar enhancement.

Image Courtesy California Governor’s Press Office

“Organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Brazen criminal activity, such as the organized retail theft operation we have taken down today, will not be tolerated in California. I want to thank our law enforcement partners, including the California Highway Patrol, for their work in apprehending these suspects, and for our continued collaborative efforts to end organized retail theft. With these charges, we’re moving forward to hold these defendants accountable.”

“Californians deserve to feel safe, and businesses deserve to operate throughout the state without fear of theft,” said Governor Newsom. “Our retail theft task force continues to crack down on crime, recovering more than $28 million worth of stolen merchandise to date. I want to thank our CHP officers, Attorney General Bonta, and our federal and local partners for helping create a safer California.”

Task Force Data

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Since the California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force’s inception in 2019, the CHP has been involved in 1,469 investigations, resulting in 853 arrests, and the recovery of stolen merchandise valued at over $28 million dollars.

Additional Action

Throughout his time in office, Governor Gavin Newsom has and continues to prioritize combating organized retail theft by investing more than $241.4 million just in the last year to bolster law enforcement efforts to address organized retail theft and other crimes, and support affected businesses, including:

  • Provided a total of $15 million annually for the California Highway Patrol to expand and make permanent its Organized Retail Crime Task Force. This unit works with local law enforcement to address organized theft in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego regions, and was expanded by Governor Newsom to cover the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley regions.
  • Providing annual funding ($30 million over the next three years) to support District Attorneys effectively prosecuting theft-related crimes.
  • Funding the creation of a new unit, housed in the state Attorney General’s office, with specialized investigators and prosecutors focused specifically on organized theft rings.
  • Providing $85 million annually for three years in competitive grants for local law enforcement to combat organized retail crime so Californians and businesses across the state can feel safe.
  • Signed AB 331(Jones-Sawyer), extending CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force sunset provision.

In a recent statement, the California Retailers Association added:

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“The California Retailers Association is proud of the partnership we forged with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office and the California Highway Patrol to combat the rise in organized retail crime. CRA worked with the Governor’s Administration to secure funding for and expansion of the ORC Taskforces including dedicated ORC prosecutors for each task force and local law enforcement grants for retail theft.”

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