Marin law enforcement, businesses take a watchful eye – Marin Independent Journal

Marin’s businesses and law enforcement are on high alert this week after a series of high-profile thefts in the Bay Area over the weekend.

The Marin County Association of Chiefs of Police – a group that represents the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney, and all county police chiefs – released a consolidated statement on Tuesday denouncing the thefts and promising “relentless pursuits” if they were to happen here.

“Such violent activity creates an extraordinary security problem in our communities and Marin County law enforcement refuses to accept such violent and brazen activity related to theft,” the statement said.

Marin’s business leaders were silent on whether retail owners were taking preventative measures to deter thieves from hitting local malls and retail outlets. But some have been adamant in their condemnation of the crimes.

“Every time someone takes and steals property that doesn’t belong to them, it’s a terrible thing that happens and a terrible thing that happens to a business,” said Coy Smith, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Novato.

He described the thefts as a double risk of hardship for businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are certainly not supporting it in any way and we certainly hope law enforcement will be able to put something in place to prevent this from happening here,” he said. “It’s scary. It’s dangerous. It’s not something we want to happen in our community by any stretch of the imagination.

Bay Area targets over the weekend included cannabis dispensaries in Oakland, a Nordstrom store in Walnut Creek, a jewelry store in Hayward, and retailers in San Jose and Union Square in San Francisco.

The flights were described as highly organized and planned. In Nordstrom, around 80 people were involved in the rampage. In Oakland, “hundreds” of vehicles were involved and 175 shots were fired by suspects.

Lt. Dan Fink of the San Rafael Police Department said there had historically been “stealing” thefts from stores in San Rafael, although none reached the scale and level of theft. organization observed over the weekend.

“I don’t think any community is safe from what happened in Walnut Creek or SF,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to assume just because we haven’t seen it that it means it won’t happen. We have to be careful. We have to make sure that we protect the people in our area.

The Apple Store in the Village of Corte Madera was repeatedly hit in 2018 by coordinated thefts, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in losses. Representatives of the village declined to comment.

Fink said that during the holiday season, San Rafael shoppers should expect to see additional patrols and a more obvious law enforcement presence. He said departments were sharing confidential advice and information gathered on social media to anticipate and hopefully stop coordinated flights before they happen.

DeAnn Biss, executive director of the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said there was an ongoing internal discussion among county business leaders over the most effective approach to tackling potentially coordinated thefts. .

She said her concern extended to events held outside of the holidays, particularly following the Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where a driver slammed into a crowd, killing five people and injuring 48 people. .

“It is very important at times like this to take a moment, take a break and make sure that our local events are planned in coordination with the fire department and police,” she said. . “That’s what they do. They will ensure the security of our events and our shopping centers.

Stephanie Koehler, executive director of the Downtown Novato Business Association, said her organization represents 413 small businesses, ranging from retail, restaurants and other businesses. She said she spoke to sporting goods and clothing retailers, who said they weren’t too worried as it appeared high-end, high-volume brands were the target of the most heists. more recent.

“It doesn’t look like at this point there is what looks like a targeted hit around here,” she said. “They seem to be in the larger high-end markets. “

Still, she noted, store operators noted that they did not have the resources available to department stores in the domestic market to take preventative measures.

“Everyone knows about it, and it’s not that they put their heads in the sand, but a lot of them don’t really have the resources to inflate things,” she said. .

The Bay Area, Los Angeles and Sacramento are among nationwide hot spots for organized retail crime, said Rachel Michelin, president / CEO of the California Retailers Association.

The Walnut Creek flights, she said, have raised concerns in the retail industry as the coordinated flights spread from major cities to surrounding suburbs.

“If we don’t get a solution to this problem and if we don’t embrace each other and really start to strategize, it will seep into our communities,” she said.

Michelin said the main strategy in combating organized theft was information sharing and a state-funded prevention effort guided by an organized retail task force under the auspices of the California Highway Patrol.

“I think they’re trying to anticipate and they’re trying to prevent that from happening. But it’s difficult, ”she said.

She said retailers in high-end markets and malls are also investing in deterrents such as surveillance tools, uniform and undercover security, and collaborations with law enforcement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom assured Monday that the state will crack down on retail theft with law enforcement and include additional preventative measures in next year’s budget.

Bay Area News Group contributed to this report.

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