News, Politics

Apple Store Robberies In California Leads To 17 Arrests

A number of suspects have been arrested in conjunction with a series of Apple store robberies that resulted in the theft of devices worth over $1 million. The California Attorney General’s office in a statement said on Thursday that seven individuals were arrested earlier in the week, another suspect was in custody while nine others had been charged with the crime. Since then, two more individuals have been arrested. A smash-and-grab robbery gang rushed Apple retail stores, stole the products on display and left in just a span of a few seconds.

“Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. “Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking. We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable.”

Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick described those accused as being part of a “large criminal ring.” The crimes are said to have allegedly taken place across 19 counties in California and the suspects have been charged for conspiracy to commit grand theft. The charges were filed against the suspects in Fresno, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties while arrest warrants were issued for nine other suspects.

Seven of the suspects were in custody in Oakland at the time of Attorney General Becerra’s announcement and one in Sonoma County.

Alameda County released the names of 10 suspects in custody on Friday and scheduled to make a court appearance. The individuals named were:

  • Leo David Smith
  • Joshua Jamal Cole
  • Taye Duran Davis
  • Nahom Ephrem Yemane
  • Antoine Derell Johnson
  • Cody Stewart
  • Branson Golden
  • Yoshua Neshun Barker
  • Jerel Wimberly
  • Jeremi Hanks

All 10 suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and commercial burglary. Additionally, Davis has also been charged with violating his parole for being a convicted felon found in possession of a weapon.

Smith, Stewart, Cole, Davis, and Barker also have prior convictions ranging from, robbery, car theft, and burglary counts.

“We’re going to see a pretty substantial, hopefully, reduction in these crimes across the state,” Oakland Police Lt. Clay Burch promises.

“We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable,” he said.

Nick Leahy, Apple spokesman declined to comment on the arrests made and referred questions to the state Department of Justice. He wouldn’t confirm or deny the rumored Apple “kill switch,” which supposedly disables stolen devices or any other anti-theft measures.

“We don’t comment on matters of security,” he said.

The thieves struck the Bay Area hard in August, hitting stores in Walnut Creek, Santa Rosa, Emeryville, and Corte Madera.

Authorities have not yet confirmed which stores the suspects have been charged with robbing.

The Oakland Police Department along with the San Luis Obispo Police Department led the investigation, with the assistance of several law enforcement agencies across the state, officials said.