California attorney general Xavier Becerra revealed in a statement released on Thursday that 17 people had been charged in connection with a robbery scheme that targeted Apple stores in California.
The thieves have stolen more than $1 million worth of iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads from Apple stores across 19 counties.
In a statement, Becerra explained how the thefts occurred in broad daylight. The suspects would enter the retail stores in large groups wearing hoodies, and quickly snatch the devices on display. The robbery is done in just a matter of seconds.
ABC7 reported that there were at least 21 of these run-and-grab thefts at California Apple stores since mid May. Each of these robberies is estimated to have hauled around $30,000 in stolen goods.
The value of the stolen products is believed to be worth more than $1 million but the thieves likely netted much less. iPhones can be remotely locked down and blacklisted from cellular networks so stolen iPhones are just good for the parts. Stolen laptops, on the other hand, will have limited access to Apple services.
Seven of the suspects were arrested on Sept. 25 and booked in the Alameda County Jail. One was in custody in Sonoma County at the time of the announcement. Arrest warrants have already been issued for the nine other suspects but they remain at large.
Three of the suspects were identified on Sept. 12 following a vehicle chase with the police. They were caught after crashing their vehicle twice and then attempting to flee after abandoning the car.
“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals. Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking,” Becerra said in the press release.
“We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable.”
The Alameda County on Friday released the names of the 10 suspects who are in custody and were scheduled to appear in court.
According to CBS Sacramento, these individuals were Nahom Ephrem Yemane, Cody Stewart, Yoshua Neshun Barker, Leo David Smith, Antoine Derell Johnson, Branson Golden, Joshua Jamal Cole, Taye Duran Davis, Jerel Wimberly, and Jeremi Hanks.
All 10 suspects face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and commercial burglary. Davis, a convicted felon, was also charged with violating his parole for possession of a weapon. Smith, Cole, Stewart, and Barker also have prior convictions that range from robbery, car theft, and burglary counts.
The investigation is still ongoing.