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San Jose Police Department (Photo: sjpd.org)

Smash and Grab ‘Flashmob’ Robbery in San Jose Thwarted

Macy’s robbery at Oakridge Mall stopped by loss prevention officers, SJPD

By Evan Symon, December 20, 2021 10:55 am

An attempted mass ‘flashmob’-style robbery over the weekend at a San Jose Macy’s that was thwarted by store security and the San Jose Police Department, has been hailed as one of the first successes in stopping the current smash-and-grab crime wave that has been plaguing the area for quite some time.

Crime in the Bay Area has gone up drastically the last few years due to multiple factors including police defunding efforts, a lowered number of police officers, a reduction of non-violent and felony-level crimes through Props 47 and 57, the unwillingness of many local DA’s to prosecute many crimes, and multiple other state and local factors. And while crime was already extraordinarily high in 2021 in the region, a string of robberies involving throngs of people descending on a store all at once and quickly robbing the place quickly came to prominence last month following many high-end stores in San Francisco’s Union Square being robbed that way.

While other cities, such as Los Angeles, faced similar crimes as well, it became most prominent in the Bay Area.

Many cities, initially hesitant to increase police following police defunding measures being taken following the George Floyd incident last year, soon began implementing a number of measures in November and December. These ranged from halting police cuts, a greater police presence in highly targeted areas, and even all-out reversals of post-George Floyd policies such as hiring more police and opening more police academies to train more officers. The state is also contributing, with Governor Gavin Newsom vowing more funding to help stop the crime wave.

San Jose has not been an exception to increasing additional security and police presence in the area. Many stores, malls, and other retail locations have hired more security since late November, with the city earlier this month adding new measures such as more license plate readers and trying to entice more law enforcement applicants.

Macy’s robbery thwarted

The increased efforts were shown paying off during the Macy’s robbery this weekend. Around 15 people attempted to rob the Macy’s all at once on Saturday at Oakridge Mall, injuring one employee in the process. Store security officers quickly descended upon the members, with SJPD also responding quickly. While only one person was immediately arrested, the quick action had scared many of the would-be robbers away, with over $1,000 worth of merchandise being recovered from the fleeing robbers.

While no suspects have been arrested as of Monday morning, the thwarted robbery is being seen as a possible turn-around point against the wave of robberies in the Bay Area.

“I’m not sure that you can call the Macy’s robbery a win for law enforcement,” said Rick Walters, a security consultant for several shopping plazas and stores in the Los Angeles area, to the Globe on Monday. “I mean, everyone got away, the one arrest they had was someone who had been interfering with the police and cost them to lose the one suspect they had been trying to arrest, and an innocent employee was cut up pretty bad.”

“But what is different is that they had been chased away. They could have stolen a lot more, but with everyone from the police commissioner to seasonal security members have been hyper aware that something like this could happen, so everyone swooped in quickly. Those robbers were obviously not expecting that. With more police being sent out and more security, they  got in pretty fast. A lot of these groups are planning on only a minute or two of running in, getting as much as possible, and running back out to cars, and even that proved to not be enough time.”

“So it’s not a win, but it isn’t a loss either. You can see what even a little more increased police presence can bring. Imagine what it would be like back at full police staffing and having the ability to properly prosecute. We’re still quite a ways from that, but even these little bumps back up to where we were are proving their worth already. And for those that are committing these crimes, they’re probably wondering if it is still worth it.”

More measures expected to add police officers and refund police departments are expected in many cities in the coming months to further combat the crime wave in the Bay Area.

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