SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Apple stores across California have been targeted by groups of thieves in recent months, dashing into stores wearing hoodies and snatching products from the shelves in seconds. On Thursday, however, the Golden State’s top cop said the crime spree has been thwarted with the arrests of 17 people charged with stealing over $1 million in Apple product.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said authorities arrested seven adults this week, and an eighth was already in custody. Arrest warrants have been issued for the other suspects, he said.
The spree covered 19 counties across the state, from San Diego in the south to Butte County hundreds of miles to the north. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible, Becerra said.
Officers from the San Luis Obispo and Oakland police departments led the investigation with help from the state Department of Justice’s eCrime unit. Law enforcement agencies from 19 other counties also assisted, according to Becerra’s office.
The thefts began this past May in Carlsbad, a city in north San Diego County. Video footage from several of the affected stores shows the brazen efficiency of the thefts: a few men run in, grab an armful of Apple products from the display tables near the entrance and run out – usually in 15 seconds or less.
Several stores were hit more than once – the stores in Carlsbad and the LA suburb of Valencia were pilfered three times – and many of the incidents resulted in losses of $20,000 or more. The thefts often occurred in broad daylight and in stores filled with customers.