SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – As the holiday shopping season was set to begin, police and security were present at the Westfield Valley Fair Mall and across the street in Santana Row, following a series of thefts from disturbing retail businesses in the Bay Area.
“It’s scary, it’s scary having to come to work sometimes,” Indochino deputy manager Martin Torres told KPIX 5. “We see security outside the mall. They barricade and block certain roads and even parking lot entrances. There was a Macy’s hit, there was a Lululemon, a Bloomingdale’s. There were a lot of places.
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Armed guards were placed at the entrances of stores the day before Thanksgiving Day, two days before Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
San Jose Police parked their cars outside stores and patrolled both malls on foot and on quad bikes.
On Wednesday, nearly all Bay Area County prosecutors, including Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, announced they would work together to impose tougher sentences on suspects caught robbing retail stores.
At a press conference, Rosen spoke about two suspects, Dwayne Huntley and Raheem Lewis, who were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of perfume and cologne from Valley Fair and the Westfield shopping center Oakridge in South San Jose this week.
The couple are now charged with robbery and burglary.
“For the two people arrested so far, the bond has been set at $ 2 million,” Rosen said. “We’re concerned that this is a crime of expediency, and when people go out, they can just try again. We are therefore doing all we can to keep them in detention.
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“We are aware, we are monitoring, we are responding and we will arrest you like we did yesterday,” said the San Jose Police Sgt. Christian Camarillo.
Over the past week, organized crime rings have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise from department stores and small businesses in the Bay Area including Oakland, San Francisco, Hayward, Palo Alto and San Jose .
Many San Jose shoppers have said they plan to get in and out of the mall quickly because they feared being inside a store during a cheeky theft at a retail store, including Tiffany Ho.
“We have to pick something up, which is why we have to be here, but we will try to make it short,” Ho said.
Letty McKenzie said her daughter was planning to visit Union Square on the same day a team of thieves targeted a Louis Vuitton store.
“You feel like, what are you doing as a mother,” McKenzie said. “And then you don’t even want to go because you don’t feel safe.”
On Sunday, thieves stole more than $ 40,000 in merchandise from the Lululemon in Santana Row. The store is across from where Torres works inside Valley Fair.
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“This concerns me, this concerns our team, I spoke to security at this location, they are all aware of it and we don’t know what to do about it,” Torres said.