California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to see the looters participating in a series of mass daylight robberies in his state prosecuted.
“I have no sympathy, no empathy whatsoever for people smashing and grabbing, stealing people’s items, creating havoc and terror on our streets,” the Democrat, who recently survived a recall election, told reporters during a briefing on Monday.
One robbery took place over the weekend in Walnut Creek. Witnesses and video footage showed 50-plus people converge on a Nordstrom and ransack the store.
Officials say dozens of other businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area have also been hit by mobs in recent days. Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong called the groups “roving caravans of vehicles.”
“We want real accountability, we want people prosecuted, and we want people to feel safe this holiday season,” Newsom said, calling the thefts “unacceptable.”
His administration in July re-established a retail theft task force, which has since launched over 700 probes. The investigations have led to hundreds of arrests and the securing of over $20 million items that were stolen. There are plans to ramp up the efforts.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, a Democrat whose platform included promising to not prosecute some lower-level crimes, told KPIX-TV on Tuesday that his office is working on putting together charges against eight suspects that participated in the organized thefts.
Twenty-five other people are at-large in connection with some of the burglaries.
Boudin said his policies are not linked to the series of robberies. But he also said jail time may not be warranted for some of the criminals.
“I think it depends on how much time and what the criminal history is. We can’t generalize,” he said. “If we’re going to be smart on crime, if we’re going to be effective at breaking the cycle of incarceration and stopping the revolving door, we need to look at every single case, based on the facts, based on the law, based on the individual circumstances.”
A recall election against Boudin was certified earlier this month.
The election is slated to take place on June 7, 2022.
Detractors say Boudin’s failure to secure prison time for Troy McAlister, who later struck two pedestrians while driving a stolen car, triggered the recall effort. They note Boudin has spent a career as a criminal defense attorney and had no prosecutorial experience before landing the district attorney’s job.
“Chesa Boudin is failing to keep San Franciscans safe. As car break-ins and burglaries reached a crisis level in San Francisco, Boudin’s refusal to hold serial offenders accountable is putting more of us at risk. If you haven’t been a victim of a car or home break-in in the past year, chances are great that you know someone who is a victim. Property crimes are rampant. Enough is enough,” the Safer SF Without Boudin says on its website.
Supporters argue Boudin has made good on promises to reduce the number of people in jail and “consistently fights for more support for victims of crime, including financial help and housing for domestic violence survivors.”