About 80 thieves loot department store near San Francisco

Authorities and witnesses say about 80 people, some in ski masks and crowbars, swarmed a department store in the San Francisco Bay Area, stealing merchandise before fleeing into dozens of cars.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — About 80 people, some wearing ski masks and crowbars, looted a luxury department store in the San Francisco Bay Area, looting merchandise before fleeing in cars waiting outside, police and witnesses said.

Three people were arrested, while the majority escaped after Saturday night’s large-scale theft from shoppers at the Nordstrom in Walnut Creek, police said.

NBC Bay Area reporter Jodi Hernandez tweeted that she saw the thieves storming into the store in the downtown shopping district about 20 miles northeast of San Francisco.

“About 25 cars just blocked the street and ran into Walnut Creek Nordstrom, left with goods before getting into cars and driving away,” Hernandez said on Twitter.

Video of the scene shows masked people pouring out of the store, carrying bags and boxes, jumping into the cars and running away.

Brett Barrette, the manager of a nearby PF Chang restaurant, began locking the doors of his establishment as he watched the chaos unfold.

“We probably saw 50 to 80 people with ski masks, crowbars and a lot of guns,” Barrette told ABC 7 News.

Walnut Creek Police said a firearm was recovered from one of the three arrested suspects, ABC 7 reported.

The incident was first reported around 8:45 p.m. while the store was still open. Police officials were not immediately available on Sunday morning, but a dispatcher said the department was preparing a press release.

No injuries were reported. No one answered the phone on the Nordstrom Sunday morning.

The incident happened a day after several luxury stores in San Francisco’s Union Square were broken into by a large group of people who smashed windows, stole merchandise and then ran to waiting cars, police said.

Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana were all targeted Friday night, Fox 2 News reported.

San Francisco Police Officer Robert Rueca said in a social media statement that officers responded Friday night to reports of possible looting and vandalism at Union Square stores and arrested several people.

Shops in Union Square, an upscale shopping district popular with tourists, have for years been the target of highly organized thieves who have sometimes rammed vehicles into storefronts to break glass doors and windows and enter the buildings outside office hours.

In July, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing prosecutors to charge those who work with others for stealing merchandise.

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