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Snatch-and-run Apple Store robbery ring busted in California

Apple’s home state of California is cracking down on thieves who enter the tech giant’s stores during opening hours and snatch as many devices as possible before running off.

This week cops arrested and charged 17 people who allegedly took part in a string of robberies at Apple Stores across 19 of the state’s counties, the SF Gate reports.

Losses to Apple have been put at $1 million, with thieves making off with iPhones, MacBooks, iPads, Apple Watches, and pretty much anything else they could grab from the display tables.

The issue has become so serious that California Attorney General Xavier Beccera felt compelled to issue a statement about it on Thursday, September 27.

“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals,” Beccera said in the statement. “Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking. We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable.”

The arrests are the result of an investigation involving numerous law enforcement agencies across California. The precise number of Apple Store robberies hasn’t been disclosed, but a local news outlet counted at least 21 in the last five months throughout the state, with some stores hit multiple times.

The thieves’ modus operandi is crude, to say the least. Wearing hoodies to hide their faces from security cameras and witnesses, they enter an Apple Store in a large group, yank the products from the display tables, and run off. Such heists are often over in a matter of seconds.

Staff and customers are usually reluctant to get involved, though in August several brave shoppers did step in during a robbery by three people at an Apple Store in the city of Thousand Oaks, west of Los Angeles.

Two of the suspects were tackled to the ground where they were held till the police arrived. The third was picked up later by cops, who also arrested two more suspects inside what was reportedly a getaway car, bringing the total number of detentions in that particular incident to five.

Apple products are often the target of thieves as they can fetch high prices on the black market. But some recent robberies have been far more audacious than simply slinging on a hoodie and strolling into an Apple Store. Take this Mission Impossible-style raid that saw criminals rappel down on ropes to nab iPhones from a store, or this remarkably bold effort that saw a robber jump onto a truck as it sped along a highway before grabbing the Apple gear from the back without the driver even noticing.

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