A ring of retail thieves stole more than $1 million worth of jewelry from JCPenney and Sam’s Club stores across California in 2020 and 2021, acting like a roving crime wave, the California attorney general said Friday.
Atti. General Rob Bonta announced that state prosecutors had obtained guilty pleas from two members of an organized retail thieves ring operating in the state and filed charges against another person accused of involvement in criminal activity.
The suspects were apprehended after a two-year California Highway Patrol operation to identify those responsible for the robberies in nine counties.
Anton Salaam, Marion Paul Tilley and two other suspects committed retail thefts at multiple JCPenney and Sam’s Clubs stores, taking merchandise worth more than $1 million, between September 2020 and February 2021, according to Bonta.
He said the targeted burglaries are rooted in some sort of organized crime. Those rushing into stores are mostly foot soldiers for others calling the shots from a safe distance.
Friday’s announcement is the latest since a very public mass robbery that occurred in Union Square in San Francisco, targeting high-end retailers.
“Organized retail theft costs businesses, retailers and consumers – and puts the public at risk,” Bonta said. “Brazen criminal activity, such as the organized retail theft operation we are taking action against today, will not be tolerated in California.”
The bust and subsequent charges are part of a California effort to crack down on retail theft that has exploded during the COVD-19 pandemic.
The suspects in this case entered or forced exterior doors and stole high-end jewelry in Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Clara and Tulare counties.
The arrests and pleas are the result of an investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies that began in 2020. During the investigation, the CHP and local law enforcement served warrants for searched the homes of those accused in the ring and recovered “jewelry and cases used for sale”. .” In some cases, the suspects stole the items to resell, trade or “return them for value”.
Salaam and Tilley pleaded guilty to organized retail theft and were sentenced to 16 months in state prison. A third suspect has been charged with organized retail theft and child endangerment; an illegal assault weapon was found in the presence of the suspect’s 9-year-old child, prosecutors said. A fourth suspect has also been charged with organized retail theft.
“This case underscores the commitment of the CHP and local law enforcement to improving public safety throughout the State of California, and I express my gratitude to everyone who worked so hard on this case, which has resulted in these arrests,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Roy. said in a statement.
In addition to the CHP, the agencies involved in the investigation were: Citrus Heights Police Department, Roseville Police Department, Fresno Police Department, Hanford Police Department, County Sheriff’s Office of Contra Costa, Visalia Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Folsom Police Department, Chino Police Department and Bullhead, Arizona, Police Department, who apprehended two of the suspects.
The wave of burglaries has sparked debates not only about how to tackle crime, but also about criminal justice reforms in California, which some police officials blame for an increase in retail crime.
In December, Bonta responded to criticism that social justice reforms, including Proposition 47, have fueled shoplifting by reducing its consequences, noting that these crimes are organized thefts that are crimes and that in smash-and-grab incidents, suspects blew through the $950 threshold for a crime in seconds.
Los Angeles Times