Posted: Nov 21, 2021 / 2:46 PM CST
Updated: 11/21/2021 / 4:30 PM CST
Union Square visitors view damage to the Louis Vuitton store on Sunday, November 21, 2021 after looters raided stores in San Francisco late Saturday night. (Danielle Echeverria / San Francisco Chronicle via AP)
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (AP) – Approximately 80 people, some of whom were wearing ski masks and wielding crowbars, ransacked a luxury department store in the San Francisco Bay Area, assaulting employees and stealing goods, before escaping in cars waiting outside, police and witnesses said .
Three people were arrested while the majority escaped after the large-scale theft shocked shoppers in Nordstrom at the Broadway Plaza shopping mall in Walnut Creek on Saturday night, police said in a statement on Sunday.
Two employees were attacked and one hit with pepper spray while police described it as a “clearly planned event”.
NBC Bay Area reporter Jodi Hernandez tweeted that she saw the thieves rush into the store in the downtown shopping district about 20 miles northeast of San Francisco.
“About 25 cars have just blocked the road and hurtled into Walnut Creek Nordstrom with goods before they got into cars and raced away,” Hernandez said on Twitter.
Cell phone videos from the crime scene showed masked people pouring out of the store, carrying bags and boxes, jumping into cars, and fleeing from the crime scene.
Brett Barrette, the manager of a nearby PF Chang restaurant, began locking the doors of his house as he watched the chaos unfold.
“We saw probably 50 to 80 people with ski masks, crowbars and a bunch of guns,” Barrette told ABC 7 News.
Walnut Creek police said a gun had been seized from one of the three suspects arrested.
Nordstrom employees called 911 around 9 p.m. when thieves entered the store and started stealing goods, police said.
“Walnut Creek Police investigators are in the process of reviewing the surveillance footage in an attempt to identify other suspects responsible for this audacious act,” the department said in a statement on Sunday.
Nordstrom was open as usual on Sunday.
The incident came the day after a large group of people broke into several high-end stores in Union Square, San Francisco, smashed windows, stole goods, and then ran to serviceable cars, police said.
Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana were all targeted on Friday night, Fox reported 2 News.
San Francisco Police Officer Robert Rueca said in a statement posted on social media that officers responded Friday night to reports of possible looting and vandalism in Union Square shops and arresting several people.
Shops in Union Square, a high-end shopping district popular with tourists, have been attacked for years by well-organized thieves who have sometimes rammed vehicles into shop fronts to smash glass doors and windows and enter the buildings outside of business hours.
In July, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing prosecutors to prosecute those who work with others to steal goods.