A heist of high-end handbags estimated to be worth $150,000 at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto may have been a second act for a group of enterprising thieves. The SFPD is now investigating whether a similar operation at Saks Fifth Avenue in Union Square earlier this week was committed by the same crew.
The first incident happened just after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, when a Saks security guard told police he saw six individuals, all juveniles, grab dozens of items in the store and run out, escaping into two vehicles parked outside on Powell Street. As KPIX reports, the SFPD burglary detail is investigating the incident, which appears to have been conducted in a strikingly similar manner to one that happened Wednesday afternoon at the Neiman Marcus store in Palo Alto.
An Instagram account called SFstreets415 claims, via tipsters,or some unnamed source, that around 40 handbags and other items were taken in the San Francisco heist, with a retail value totaling around $90,000.
In the second incident at Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto police say that ten suspects were involved — five male and five female. As the Mercury News reports, this "coordinated group" of thieves stole some 43 handbags worth about $150,000 altogether.
Police were called to the store at 12:20 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a gunshot, or a person with a gun, but the gunshot sound someone heard was likely the sound of a glass display case breaking. According to the Palo Alto Police Department, the thieves grabbed some handbags that were tied down with security cables, and they took them with brute force, breaking the cables and in turn shattering glass in the cases where the cables were attached.
The suspects then left the scene in three vehicles: a white Ford Mustang, a dark blue Infiniti four-door sedan, and a white Infiniti four-door sedan. The police bulletin describes all ten suspects as African American, and they were all wearing hoodies and face coverings. Surveillance stills that the department published on Twitter are, therefore, fairly useless.
News Release: Large group of suspects steals handbags from Neiman Marcus at Stanford Shopping Center. Details: https://t.co/3XuhBWgEW1 pic.twitter.com/KIZA7Xf5CH— Palo Alto Police (@PaloAltoPolice) May 20, 2021
These kinds of crimes are not at all new to Union Square, at least. A similar grab-and-run robbery happened in November at the Yves Saint Laurent boutique in Union Square, where five thieves seen wearing court-ordered ankle monitors shoved their way into the store and stole $54,000 worth of purses. That same store saw some thieves back a car through the front window to steal some pricey bags back in 2018.
And San Franciscans may remember the Rainbow Girls or Rainbow Crew, a group of at least 16 thieves who were busted in 2016 after terrorizing Union Square stores for about five years. They were charged in 23 separate cases and $200,000 worth of merchandise was recovered in that bust.
The SFPD is seeking information on the suspects, and tips can go to the 24-hour-tip line at 415-575-4444, or you can text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD.
The Palo Alto PD is also seeking information, and they can be reached at (650) 329-2413, or you can text an anonymous tip to (650) 383-8984.