The Walnut Creek City Council in California approved an additional $2 million in funds to beef up its police presence following a smash-and-grab mob looting at a Nordstrom location last month.
“If it takes two to arrest one, and three to arrest two, if you’ve got 80 to 90, my math says you’re getting close to 200 officers necessary in order to arrest them in a minute and a half,” Councilwoman Cindy Silva said Wednesday.
Nearly 100 thieves wearing ski masks and holding crowbars stormed Nordstrom on Nov. 20, stealing about $125,000 in merchandise.
Nordstrom location in Walnut Creek, California, which dozens of looters targeted on Nov. 20, 2021
(Google Maps )
The incident rocked the city, which is just outside San Francisco, and marked a wave of similar incidents in the area and other parts of California.
“In total, the criminal mob was in and out within one minute,” Capt. Andy Brown said of the looting, KTVU reported.
The city council held the special meeting on Wednesday morning and unanimously voted to spend half of its remaining unallocated federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, NBC Bay Area reported.
The $2 million will be spent over 18 months and will add five officers to the downtown area. Security cameras and a drone will also be installed to surveil the area.
Police Chief Jamie Knox told the council that it typically takes anywhere from eight to 18 months to recruit and hire new officers. The council will also allocate $130,000 for immediate overtime pay for three days a week through June 30 of next year.
The City of Walnut Creek has five Councilmembers. They are elected at large for 4-year, staggered terms; elections are held in November of each even-numbered year. The Mayor, who was selected on December 1, 2020, is Kevin Wilk; he will serve as Mayor until December of 2021. Matt Francois is serving as the Mayor Pro Tem.
“I wish we could spend these funds elsewhere; I really do … but this is the fire we need to put out,” said Walnut Creek Mayor Kevin Wilk. “We need to ensure that we keep the community safe and that we provide the greatest deterrence possible from the city of Walnut Creek, to our Police Department and other measures. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that this is the case.”
The council also approved sending letters to the Contra Costa District Attorney, state legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom to make sure the perpetrators are held to account and to see if any potential loopholes in state laws need to be closed. Fox News has reached out to the city of Walnut Creek for copies of the letters.
Gov. Gavin Newsom pauses while speaking to the press during a visit to Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.
(Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)
“When you change the law and you make petty crimes or you make certain crimes petty,” Silva said. “But when 80 people show up to commit the same petty theft, that’s a felony.”
In 2014, Proposition 47 was passed in California and shoplifting charges regarding the theft of $950 or less were lowered from felonies to misdemeanors. The law has sparked the ire of California police union leaders who have blamed the ACLU for the law.
“When society removes accountability for bad behavior, criminals get emboldened to commit more crimes, drug addicts thumb their noses at mandatory treatment and vandalism and petty theft turn into riotous looting and murder,” the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, Craig Lally, told Fox News earlier this week.
“One does not need to be clairvoyant to have predicted that in California the ACLU’s Proposition 47 would turn a family trip to the mall or a Home Depot into a dangerous gamble for our residents.”
Police have arrested three people in connection to the Walnut Creek Nordstrom robbery, including one on felony probation who allegedly had a gun during the crime.
“We are following up on several leads and I do anticipate additional arrests in the coming weeks,” Knox told the council.
The governor’s office told Fox News earlier this week that “shoplifting and retail theft crime rings are unacceptable.”
“The Governor expects these perpetrators to be prosecuted and held accountable for their crimes. He has also taken immediate action to increase CHP presence on highways near popular shopping areas statewide. This year, Governor Newsom signed legislation to extend the California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force, and he is committed to taking additional action in his January budget,” a spokesperson for Newsom’s office said.