With the holiday season in full swing, some “shoppers” are ensuring they’ll be placed on the naughty list by not paying for their merchandise at various San Francisco area Apple stores. A group of three to four thieves have been helping themselves to pricey Apple merchandise while hapless store staff and customers looked on.
The first of the recent thefts happened at 5:40 p.m. on Black Friday at the downtown San Francisco store on Chestnut street. Three men burst into the store, grabbed what they could — mostly iPhones — scooping them up in their hands amid stunned onlookers.
Four days later on November 29, four hoodie-clad bandits entered the store and grabbed devices with just one customer and two sales associates at the front of the store. Both robberies took under 12 seconds each to complete. These aren’t the only area thefts, however. According to Siliconbeat via KTVU, a group of 6 to 10 young men took about 45 seconds to steal iPads and iPhones — valued at $20,000 — from the Apple store in nearby Burlingame last Wednesday. It was the third robbery in the last month at that store.
There have been 11 crimes of this nature in the Bay Area since late October. The Stockton Street San Francisco store was hit on the 29th, plus 3 in Berkeley in one week, two more in Burlingame, one in Los Gatos, and a Black Friday robbery in Corte Madera. The Corte Madera incident cost the store $35,000 to $40,000 worth of iPhones and other gear, according to the Marin Independant Journal.
A woman told Berkeleyside that the robbers wore ski masks. “I felt like I was in a ninja movie. It was so stealthy and so well planned. I love the Berkeley store but after this experience I may have to go somewhere else unless they do something about this. It was scary.”
It also concerned her that after it was all over, it seemed like “no big deal” to the store staff. “No manager came out, if they have a manager. Nobody reassured people in the store. Everybody just went back to whatever they were doing. It was the strangest thing. No manager made an announcement, ‘We’re sorry that this happened.’”
Silconbeat also reports that on the website Nextdoor, a woman says she spoke to a Berkeley Apple store employee, who was quite rattled. “He said he feels his life may be in danger because he is working in this store. After revealing what had gone on, he abruptly backed off and apologized profusely saying that he should not have shared so much info with me and that Apple had instructed that he not share it.”
KTVU reports that a uniformed police officer is now stationed at the Berkeley store seven days a week, and Burlingame police were going to meet with Apple to discuss the company paying for an officer to be stationed in the store.