SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Nine people are facing a series of felony charges following a smash-and-grab robbery at the Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square and at other businesses on Friday.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced charges Tuesday against the suspects; among them, looting during a state of emergency, second-degree commercial burglary, grand theft, receiving stolen property, and carrying a loaded firearm.
“I want to be clear about something. These are not petty thefts. This is not misdemeanor conduct. This is felony conduct and we are charging felonies today,” Boudin said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
The DA’s office said five people were arrested in connection with the incident at the Louis Vuitton store. The same night, three people were arrested for burglarizing a cannabis dispensary, and one other arrested for burglarizing a Walgreens. Two of the nine arrested were allegedly carrying firearms.
The suspects in the Louis Vuitton incident were identified as Francill White, Tomiko Lamar Miller, Kimberly Cherry and Ivan Speed. The suspects in the cannabis dispensary burglary were identified as Raymond Phillips, Edward James Jr., and Michael Ray. Daron Wilson was identified as the suspect in the Walgreens burglary.
Takeover robberies were seen across the Bay Area over the past week, including at shopping centers in Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Hayward and San Jose. A series of takeover robberies were also seen at Oakland cannabis businesses.
On Tuesday, some stores at Union Square still had windows boarded up amid a pronounced increase in police presence in the area since the Friday robbery, with a mobile SFPD command center and multiple units either parked or patrolling the area.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said Tuesday he was confident there would be more arrests.
“We do have some significant leads that we’re following up on,” said Scott. “There’s a lot of video evidence to go through. A lot.”
Scott said some of those arrested are repeat offenders and have been in and out of the justice system.
“Collectively, we have some work to do,” said Scott.
When asked whether those arrested would stay in custody, Boudin responded, “Ultimately, in every single case – including these – it is the decision of the judges of the Superior Court of San Francisco whether someone stays in custody pending trial or whether they’re released.”
Boudin told KPIX 5 during an interview Monday there are at least 25 more people involved in these mob-style robberies who are still on the streets.
A number of protesters were heard chanting for Boudin’s recall at the site of Tuesday’s press conference. Boudin, who faces a June recall election, said the surge in thefts is not a San Francisco-specific problem nor a result of local policies.
“Chesa’s announcement today is just a smokescreen that is meant to distract from his failed leadership and the real issues at hand,” said a spokesperson for the recall campaign in a prepared statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, Chesa has a proven track record of undercharging cases and offering exceptionally lenient plea deals resulting in the early releases from custody of serious and violent offenders.”
Boudin said his charging rates in 2021 are higher than those in other counties around the Bay Area, and higher than his predecessor’s in 2018 and 2019.
The surge of retail thefts are believed to be largely the work of organized crime rings, with the fencing of stolen merchandise funding other illegal activities. Boudin said Tuesday his office was committed to dismantling the fencing networks that make such crimes profitable.
District attorneys from several Bay Area counties met Tuesday with a representative from the state Attorney General’s Office to discuss a partnership in combating the wave of organized theft and breaking up the fencing networks that drive the activity.