Crime

SLO Apple store theft may be linked to string of crimes across California — and nation, police say

The theft a Sacramento-area Apple store Tuesday night is the latest in a string of high-speed robberies at Apple stores throughout California and elsewhere in the nation.

Four males wearing hoodies and sneakers entered the Apple store at the Roseville Galleria and walked out with over $20,000 worth of products. Roseville Police Department spokesman Rob Baquera said the entire event, from the time the thieves entered the store to the time they left, was over quickly.

Apple stores elsewhere in the state, including in San Luis Obispo, Costa Mesa, Rancho Cucamonga, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Walnut Creek, Carlsbad and Escondido, have reported similar thefts over the past two years.

There have also been similar reports from New York and Nevada.

In all these instances, young men wearing hooded jackets enter an Apple store during its normal hours of operation, rip display products off tables and leave the store. None of the suspects have been reported to be armed.

Police think there may be a connection. Baquera said Roseville police are still performing their own investigation, but he believes they will reach out to police departments in cities where similar thefts have occurred very soon.

In June, an Apple store in San Luis Obispo was robbed by a group of males. Aaron Marcuslee Searcy, a 20-year-old Elk Grove man, was later arrested on suspicion of stealing seven iPhones from the Apple store.

According to San Luis Obispo Sgt. Trevor Shalhoob, police were assisted by Apple’s loss prevention team, which had been looking for suspects in connection to previous burglaries. Searcy was allegedly responsible for thefts from 2017 through 2018 in both California and Nevada.

Shalhoob said Searcy is believed to be part of a larger ring stealing Apple products.

The thefts include these incidents:

2016 Bay Area thefts

In 2016, local news channels reported a string of Apple store thefts in the Bay Area. Apple stores in San Francisco, Berkeley, Burlingame, Los Gatos and Corte Madera reported grab-and-run style crimes at their Apple stores. Three of these stores were hit three times.

Nevada

California Highway Patrol arrested five people allegedly involved in the robbery of an Apple store in Reno in 2016, according to a local news station. A total of 10 hooded suspects ran into the Apple store and grabbed products, leaving the store in under a minute. Police say the suspects might be tied to similar thefts in California around the same time.

San Luis Obispo

On June 21 in San Luis Obispo, police reported a group of males in their 20s and 30s had stolen products from an Apple store downtown, according to The Tribune. San Luis Obispo police uploaded photos of the suspects on their Facebook page.

“They definitely were prepared in what they were going to do,” Shalhoob said. Though he doesn’t believe the suspects are professionals, he acknowledged the suspects entered the store with an intent to steal.

Fresno

The security footage from July posted by the Fresno Police Department documenting an Apple store robbery is less than a minute long, but suspects flee the store with over $27,000 worth of products, Fresno police say.

On July 7, four hooded males ages 16-22 can be seen walking into the store behind a large group of shoppers, according to The Fresno Bee. Once in the store, the suspects run throughout the store. Two suspects can be seen tag teaming a table of eight laptops, ultimately leaving the store with all eight.

Lt. Mark Hudson of the Fresno Police Department said he believes Roseville police and Fresno police have been in contact to investigate a possible link between this theft and Tuesday’s theft in Roseville.

Walnut Creek

In May of 2017, the East Bay Times reported a store in Downtown Walnut Creek was robbed by four men in hooded sweatshirts. Over $30,000 worth of products was stolen.

Carlsbad and Escondido

Earlier this year, Carlsbad and Escondido police asked the public for help identifying suspects involved in what they identified as a spree of Apple store thefts in the two cities.

An Apple store in Carlsbad had four grab-and-run thefts from May to July, according to a local news station that reported the suspects were hooded African American males in their 20s.

An Apple store in Escondido saw a similar theft July 9.

In some cases, witnesses who attempted to intervene in these thefts were injured.

Rancho Cucamonga

In late May, a group of hooded thieves stole products from an Apple store in Rancho Cucamonga. A video uploaded by a local news station shows at least one person attempting to apprehend a suspect, but all four thieves were reported to leave the store and enter a vehicle waiting nearby.

Costa Mesa

On July 23, the Costa Mesa Police Department posted their own footage of an Apple store robbery on their Facebook page. Police say five males in their early 20s wearing hoodies fled the store with over $29,000 worth of merchandise.

In the video, an off-duty cop shopping at the store can be seen attempting to apprehend one of the suspects, but he is unsuccessful.

Bakersfield

And earlier this month, a customer at a Bakersfield Apple store sent a local news channel a video of two hooded suspects stealing products on display before running out of the store.

New York

In New York, Suffolk County Police uploaded security camera footage of thieves stealing from an Apple store in Huntington Station in early July. Unlike other suspects from thefts in Northern California, the hooded suspects are seen looking at and using the products on display before taking off with products two minutes after entering the store.

Store policies vary

In many of the videos, Apple employees can be seen witnessing the event, but none appear to apprehend the victims.

“Every store has its own policy,” Baquera explained, adding many stores are instituting a hands-off policy.

An Apple spokesperson said they have nothing to share regarding the robberies at this time and did not comment on whether Apple had told employees what to do in this type of circumstance.

Shalhoob said he doesn’t recommend customers who are witness to these acts get physically involved.

“My recommendation would be to be a good witness,” he said. A good witness can provide a good physical description, tell police what direction the suspects went in and describe the theft, he said.

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