SAN DIEGO – A string of smash-and-grab retail thefts reported throughout California is raising alarms for local businesses and law enforcement officials.
Now, San Diego County’s district attorney is stepping in a bid to stop thieves from stealing in San Diego.
Disturbing surveillance video from Tuesday shows two men using a hammer to break a display case at a kiosk at Westfield Plaza Bonita in National City and snatching jewelry from the case. The business owner said roughly $250,000 in jewelry was missing after the brazen theft that took place about 2 p.m.
“Having that happen right now when people are trying to go, just try to help out their families and help provide some holiday spirits, it’s the worst time for things like this to happen,” said Marlon Mansour of the Neighborhood Market Association.
The robbery comes amid a string of smash-and-grab thefts in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
District Attorney Summer Stephan told FOX 5 Wednesday she’s teaming up with businesses and police to prevent more from happening in local communities.
“We did a case recently with $700,000 worth of loss,” Stephan said. “This is not a small-time operation. These are criminals that are ripping off stores at the tune of millions of dollars.”
The CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force also led an operation this week to combat organized thefts at 10 locations in San Diego and Orange counties.
Stephan said one challenge has been Prop 47 which says theft under $950 dollars can’t be charged as a felony, regardless of how many times the crime is repeated. She is calling on the legislature to reinstate power to district attorneys allowing them to prosecute criminals for thefts that happened in other counties as well.
Mansour said that many members of the Neighborhood Market Association are family-owned businesses and called it an “extremely serious thing” when so-called mom and pop shops are being targeted.
“The criminals who are perpetrating these crimes know about Prop 47,” Mansour said. “They know about the ins and outs, the amount of property they need to steal before something rises to certain levels.”