A string of burglaries at the Pacific East Mall parking lot in Richmond has police officers on high alert.
The Pacific East Mall is hugely popular with both locals and tourists but what customers don’t realize is that when they’re inside, some pretty skilled and efficient burglars are ready to hit their cars, smashing and grabbing in seconds.
"It’s just so heartbreaking and so disbelief," said Geoffrey LI, who lost his life savings to thieves. "I cannot say more than that devastating."
Li and his wife had just flown into the San Francisco International Airport from China last month when the couple stopped to eat at Richmond’s Pacific East Mall. While inside, police say two women broke into their rental van and stole suitcases filled with more than $100,000 of jade jewelry that the couple planned to use to open up a jewelry store in Texas.
"That’s just unbelievable so frustrated, so hard to swallow something like this happened to us," Li said.
Police say the Li’s aren’t alone, as thieves have preyed on dozens of other shoppers in recent months, many of whom are tourists. Police say the bad guys case the lot for cars with valuables inside, then strike.
Richmond police are now using drones and other tactics to quell the problem. They’ve captured several burglars in action.
"It’s not going to be easy pickings anymore," police said. "We’re not playing around we’re coming after you."
Police have identified one of the suspects they say ripped off the Li’s, Vallejo resident Jalon Walker, and they have recovered at least some of the couple’s stolen items.
"Don’t leave any valuables in your car or prepare to be robbed," Li said.
Richmond police say their recent surveillance has led to several arrests and want burglars to know they’re watching.