Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday he was speaking as a victimized business owner himself when he made comments about last weekend's swarm of organized smash-and-grab robberies around the Bay.
The governor was at a vaccine clinic in the Mission District of San Francisco today, at an event to encourage more Latinx people to get their shots and get boosters if they got their shots early this year.
And when asked about the spate of group-attack robberies seen in Union Square, Walnut Creek, Hayward and elsewhere over the weekend, as KPIX reports, Newsom said, "We want real accountability. We want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe this holiday season."
Newsom said there would be heightened CHP patrols in highly trafficked areas near holiday shopping destinations, and there would be increased patrols especially on Interstate 680 and state Highway 4 in the Bay Area. He also suggested that increased police presence in shopping districts was something that mayors needed to "step up" and take care of, in addition to making sure organized groups of thieves were prosecuted.
"I’m not the mayor of California. But I was a mayor. And I know when things like this happen, mayors have to step up," Newsom said. And lest he be thought of as pointing fingers, he added, "That’s not an indictment. That’s not a cheap shot."
Newsom also said he "no sympathy" for smash-and-grab robbers, calling these incidents "crimes of opportunity, but they’re very well organized. And they need to be held to account."
Newsom's own PlumpJack wine shop in Cow Hollow has been hit at least three times by thieves in the last year, including an attempted burglary in July that was said to be the fourth such attempt at the time.
As of Saturday, the SFPD said it had arrested eight young adult suspects in connection with the brazen Friday crime spree in and around Union Square. And the department said car traffic through Union Square would be substantially limited during this holiday season, so that brazen thefts like these, which require quick getaways, can't occur.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who is facing a recall election next year and whose critics have cast him as being soft on property crime, was quick to denounce these organized burglaries, and said incidents like Friday's "must never happen again."
"These crimes are happening around the Bay and across the country," Boudin said on Twitter. "I stand in partnership with our local, regional, state, and federal partners as we work together to do whatever it takes to keep you safe."
Boudin added that his "organized retail theft taskforce is proactively leading more than half a dozen multi-agency investigations to dismantle fencing operations that make crime profitable." That task force also made possible the 128 charges last week against one woman who allegedly repeatedly stole from the Stonestown Target store.