California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick announced arrests and charges against 17 individuals on Thursday, September 27th. Those charged are accused of being involved in several “grab & run” thefts at Apple retail stores across California including Emeryville.
The defendants are charged with entering Apple retail stores in large groups wearing hoodies and snatching products on display. The string of thefts across the state resulted in the combined loss of over $1 million in Apple merchandise.
Eight of the arrests followed the Tuesday, September 25th Emeryville Bay Street incident which was the fourth incident at that location in a month. According to the charges, 23-year-old suspect Leo Smith drove other suspects in a Gold Lexus getaway vehicle to the 2400 block of Monticello Avenue in East Oakland’s Fairfax neighborhood.
Oakland police arrested them at a home there at 2:24 p.m. The suspects were booked in the Alameda County Jail. All were charged with conspiracy and commercial burglary in the thefts
“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals. Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable.”
“The successful collaborative efforts of law enforcement has resulted in dismantling a large criminal ring,” said Oakland Police Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick.
The arrests are the product of a combined investigation conducted by the San Luis Obispo and Oakland Police Department, with the assistance of the California Department of Justice eCrime Unit. The San Luis Obispo Police Department initiated the investigation following a series of thefts from Apple stores. Local law enforcement agencies from 19 counties have assisted in the investigation.
Oakland Police Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick and Lieutenant Burch talk with media about the criminal search warrant arrests officers made in connection with the Apple Store Robberies. pic.twitter.com/bwV3D3tDYq
— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) September 27, 2018
In addition to Smith, the other Alameda County arrests were identified as:
- Joshua Jamal Cole, 19
- Taye Duran Davis, 19
- Cody Stewart, 18
- Jeremi Hank, 21
- Nahom Ephrem Yemane, 19
- Antoine Derell Johnson,19
One of the 17 suspects is currently in custody in Sonoma County after being detained by a Good Samaritan and a security guard. Arrest warrants have been issued for nine other suspects. Five of the ten charged in Alameda County have previous convictions.
Many in the law enforcement community and retail profession have pointed to Proposition 47 as one of the causes for these increasingly brazen criminal acts. Prop 47, passed in 2014 as the The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, reduced penalties for many “non-violent” crimes .
The non-partisan think tank PPIC recently linked Prop 47 to an increase in property crime in our state including auto burglaries and shoplifting. Since 2014, Auto burglaries in Emeryville are up 91%. Property Crimes are up 57%.