PALO ALTO, Calif. - A new video sent to KTVU by an eyewitness appears to show luxury bag thieves brazenly running past a security guard who stood by while the crew stole $100,000 in merchandise from the Louis Vuitton store in the Stanford Shopping Center.
Palo Alto police say the group of thieves stormed the retail store around 5:30 p.m. Monday and got away with 36 handbags. There were a total of eleven participants and five getaway vehicles, according to police.
Authorities said the group was well-coordinated and may be connected to a string of burglary shoplifts in other cities. One similar case happened in at a Neiman Marcus store in the same shopping center on May 19, though the vehicles used in the incident were different.
Last year, security cameras captured burglars using river rocks to smash jewelry cases at Bloomingdales, where $83,000 was gone in a minute and 20 seconds. Six years ago, a thief drove a stolen car through the Bloomingdales window in a smash and grab.
According to CLEAR, a national coalition of law enforcement and retailers that deals with organized crime theft, shoplifting has gotten significantly worse since the pandemic. Where the bags will end up? Likely Amazon or other online marketplaces.
Despite the recent rise, organized crime targeting retail stores has been an issue for many years in the Bay area. In 2018, 17 suspects were charged for a robbery scheme targeting Apple stores across California that resulted in the loss of more than $1 million in merchandise.
After the 2018 arrests, the same scheme still remained a problem for Apple stores in the Bay Area region, including this one in 2019 in Burlingame.
In that robbery, KTVU learned that employees were instructed not to engage with thieves. This is the likely reason why the security guard who was near the scene of Monday's burglary was observed not doing anything to stop the thieves.
Witnesses described the suspects in Monday's handbag burglary as Black men and women, possibly in their late teens or early twenties. Witnesses also say the suspects left in a gray Lexus sedan, a gray Infinity sport utility vehicle, a white Audi sedan, a black four-door Hyundai sedan, and a red two-door Honda sedan
Anyone who has information about Monday's burglary is asked to contact Palo Alto police.