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Smash-And-Grabs Prompt Heavy Security Presence At Valley Fair, Santana Row As Holidays Near

CBS SF Bay Area logo CBS SF Bay Area 6 days ago Syndicated Local – CBS San Francisco

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – With the holiday shopping season set to begin, police and security presence were heavy at Westfield Valley Fair mall and across the street at Santana Row, in the wake of a series of disturbing retail robberies across the Bay Area.

“It’s scary, it’s scary to have to come into work sometimes,” Indochino assistant manager Martin Torres told KPIX 5. “We see security outside the mall. They barricade and block off certain roads and even entrances to the parking structures. There was a Macy’s hit, there was a Lululemon, a Bloomingdale’s. There was a lot of places.”

Armed guards were fixed at store entrances for Black Friday — one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

San Jose police parked their cars outside of stores, and patrolled on foot and quad vehicles at both malls.

A San Jose Police cruiser parked outside Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose on November 24, 2021. (CBS) © Provided by CBS SF Bay Area A San Jose Police cruiser parked outside Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose on November 24, 2021. (CBS)

A San Jose Police cruiser parked outside Westfield Valley Fair mall in San Jose on November 24, 2021. (CBS)

On Wednesday, nearly all Bay Area County district attorneys, including Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, announced they would work together to hand down harsher punishments against suspects who are caught robbing retail stores.

In a news conference, Rosen spoke about two suspects, Dwayne Huntley and Raheem Lewis, who were arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of perfume and cologne from Valley Fair and Westfield Oakridge mall in South San Jose this week.


Video: Smash-And-Grabs Prompt Heavy Security Presence At Valley Fair, Santana Row As Holidays Near (CBS SF Bay Area)

Smash-And-Grabs Prompt Heavy Security Presence At Valley Fair, Santana Row As Holidays Near
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The pair are now charged with grand theft and burglary.

“For the two that were arrested so far the bail was set at $2 million,” Rosen said. “We’re concerned that this is a crime of opportunity, and when people get out they may just try again. So we’re doing everything that we can to keep them in custody.”

“We are aware, we are watching, we are responding and we will arrest you just like we did yesterday,” said San Jose Police Sgt. Christian Camarillo.

In the last week, organized crime rings have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from department stores and smaller businesses up and down the Bay Area, including Oakland, San Francisco, Hayward, Palo Alto and San Jose.

Many San Jose shoppers said they planned to be in and out of the mall quickly because they feared being inside a store during a brazen retail robbery, including Tiffany Ho.

“We have to pick up something, that’s why we have to be here, but we’ll try to make it short,” Ho said.

Letty McKenzie said her daughter planned to go to Union Square the same day a crew of robbers targeted a Louis Vuitton store.

“You feel like, what do you do as a mother,” said McKenzie. “And then you don’t even want to go because you feel unsafe.”

On Sunday, thieves stole more than $40,000 worth of merchandise at the Lululemon at Santana Row. The store is across the street from where Torres works inside Valley Fair.

“It concerns me, it concerns our team, I’ve talked to security at this location they’re all aware of it and we don’t know what to do about it,” said Torres.

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