Fox News reports that smash-and-grab looters targeted stores across the country as Thanksgiving approached, and over the Black Friday weekend. They pillaged stores of thousands of dollars in merchandise and killed a security guard in Oakland as he tried to protect a news crew who were reporting on the crimes.
“We tried to stop them,” said Home Depot employee Luis Romo. He described how a “flash mob” targeted a Home Depot in Lakewood, California, on Black Friday. “We closed the front entrance and they put their sledgehammers up and whoever got in the way, they were going to hurt them.”
The crew of eight robbers stole hammers, crowbars and other tools. Such tools have been used in other smash-and-grab robberies in California, including a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek last week.
Five thieves stole $25,000 worth of designer purses from a Nordstrom store in a Los Angeles mall on the eve of Thanksgiving. A big group of robbers entered a Bottega Veneta in Los Angeles’s Beverly Grove neighborhood on November 26, and used chemicals against an employee who tried to stop them as they stole high-end merchandise.
Later that day, the Los Angeles Police Department went on a citywide tactical alert. The alert has since ended.
Near Minneapolis, a large group of at least 30 people targeted a Best Buy, while a dozen or so thieves, including juveniles, targeted another Best Buy in Maplewood, Minnesota. None of the thieves has been arrested.
A former Target executive lamented “this growing trend” to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It is definitely a tough problem to solve, given the organized nature and number of people involved in many of the incidents,” he said.
The robberies turned deadly in California, when an Oakland security guard was shot and killed during an armed robbery while protecting a news crew that had come to the site to cover a previous smash-and-grab theft.
“It is with the deepest sadness that I let you know security guard Kevin Nishita has passed away,” said Mark Neerman, KPIX’s news director. “He died protecting one of our own, a colleague reporting on the very violence that took his life. I know you join me in sending condolences to his family and in sending thanks to Kevin for standing up for us all.”
He was shot in the abdomen during an attempted robbery of a TV station’s camera equipment on Wednesday and later died from his injuries.
A wave of smash-and-grab robberies afflicted California over the last week, with most of the robberies occurring in stores near San Francisco and Los Angeles. In Walnut Creek, which is located in the San Francisco region, roughly 80 looters stormed a Nordstrom and stole up to $200,000 in merchandise.