WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — About 80 people, some wearing ski masks and wielding crow bars, ransacked a high-end department store in the San Francisco Bay Area, stealing merchandise before fleeing in cars waiting outside, police and witnesses said.
Police said that three people were taken into custody, while most others fled after the massive theft at Nordstrom Walnut Creek on Saturday night.
Jodi Hernandez of NBC Bay Area tweeted that she witnessed the thieves enter the store at the downtown shopping area in San Francisco, which is about 20 miles (32km) northeast from San Francisco.
“About 25 cars just blocked the street and rushed into the Walnut Creek Nordstrom making off with goods before getting in cars and speeding away,” Hernandez said on Twitter.
A video of the scene captures masked individuals streaming out from the store carrying boxes and bags as they speed off in their cars.
Brett Barrette, the manager of a nearby PF Chang’s restaurant, began locking doors at his establishment while watching the chaos unfold.
“We probably saw 50 to 80 people in ski masks, crowbars, a bunch of weapons,” Barrette told ABC 7 News.
ABC 7 reported that the Walnut Creek Police Department had recovered a firearm from one of the suspects.
At 8:45 PM, the first report of the incident came in while the store was still opened. Police officials couldn’t immediately be reached Sunday morning, but a dispatcher said the department was preparing a news release.
No injuries have been reported. No one was available to answer the Nordstrom phone Sunday morning.
The incident came a day after several high-end 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.
Robert Rueca, a San Francisco police officer stated in a social media statement that officers responded on Friday to reports of looting at Union Square shops and made several arrests.
For years, thieves have targeted Union Square stores, which is a popular tourist destination. They have broken glass windows, and sometimes rammed cars into the storefronts.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law in July that allows prosecutors to charge those who work with others to steal merchandise. Gavin Newsom signed the law that permits prosecutions to file charges against people who collaborate with others in order to steal merchandise.