Officials have charged 17 people with stealing more than $1 million in electronics from Apple stores across California, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s office announced Thursday.
Seven people were arrested Tuesday and booked in the Alameda County jail, and one is in custody in Sonoma County. Arrest warrants have been issued for nine others.
The thieves wore hoodies and entered Apple stores in large groups before quickly snatching products on display, officials said.
The announcement comes after a series of thefts over several months across 19 counties. Video footage shows groups of men in dark hoodies casually walking into Apple stores before running off with products, while scared customers stand by.
In a July theft in Costa Mesa, surveillance video from South Coast Plaza shows that some of the men appear to struggle with a man, who was an off-duty police officer, standing near the store as customers run from the area.
In that case, the burglars stole nearly $30,000 worth of merchandise, including iPhones and iPads. The suspects were described as being in their 20s.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department began an investigation following a series of thefts, and several agencies — including those from Butte, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties — assisted.
“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals,” Becerra said in a statement. “Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking.”
Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said law enforcement collaboration led to “dismantling a large criminal ring.”