Black Friday

Retail Robberies Heighten Black Friday Security Concerns

NBC Universal, Inc.

Retailers are hoping for a return of Black Friday bargain hunters, but some shoppers are a little rattled after the rash of mass robberies across the Bay Area. 

“Don't go at it alone, be careful, go in a group, shop with at least one other person if you're out. Certainly, take safety into consideration,” said Douglas Kindrick of San Jose. 

He said he'll do his Christmas shopping online this year to avoid the crowds and other concerns.

For retail employees, security is always a concern during the shopping season, but this year -- it's heightened.

“I think they said they're going to have more security guards just roaming around, keeping an eye out,” said Olivia Ramirez, who works at La Donna -- a bridal shop on Santana Row.

Those concerns about safety have shopping centers across the Bay Area beefing up security.   

At San Jose's Oakridge Mall, there was a visible police presence.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said he's pushing for funding to install more license plate readers across the city to help track anyone involved in future incidents.

“I think the license plate readers are a huge benefit not just for organized retail crime, but for any type of crime,” said Paul Joseph of the San Jose Police Department. 

In San Francisco, police officers are posted everywhere in and around Union Square. And vehicle traffic remains tightly restricted to prevent the kind of organized getaway seen during Friday night's flash mob robberies.

As law enforcement authorities continue working to prevent these crimes from happening again and track down the people who were involved, Ben Dugan with the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, has been piecing together how these mobs of people come together in the first place.

“They're bringing weapons, they're being supplied with burglary tools, being directed on what specific products to target that have the highest resale value online,” he said. “Anytime you're involved with that type of organization, you're talking about a criminal network.”

He added that online shoppers should be suspicious they're buying stolen merchandise if they see high end products, on sites like Etsy, Amazon and eBay, at deeply reduced prices.

That's where he said criminal networks are able to sell these goods.

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