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Task force credited with nearly 90 retail theft arrests in San Mateo County

San Mateo County supervisor calls for task force amid rising retail theft
San Mateo County supervisor calls for task force amid rising retail theft 03:30

Authorities in San Mateo County gave an update Monday on a task force aimed at stopping organized retail theft on the Peninsula, saying the effort has led to nearly 90 arrests in six months.

Police in Daly City, San Bruno and San Mateo, along with the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, touted "significant progress" since the task force was enacted in October 2023. The task force was funded by a grant from the Board of State Community Corrections.

Through April 26, the effort has led to 88 arrests in connection with 82 crimes and the recovery of at least 719 items with a total value of $23,521, officials said. Two weapons were also seized.

"This coordinated investment into combating organized retail theft has resulted in an immediate and impactful return. The collaboration between the three police agencies and our partners in the private sector has proven to be extremely effective," said San Mateo Police Chief Ed Barberini.

Last summer, Supervisor David Canepa called for the task force to stop a wave of retail theft in the county.

"Enough is enough! All this retail theft. All this sort of crime," Canepa told CBS News Bay Area in August 2023.

In a statement Monday, Canepa praised the results of the task force, but called for a ballot measure amending Proposition 47, which reclassified certain thefts as misdemeanors.

"The police crackdown on these organized crime groups has been outstanding but my fear is that the perpetrators may walk free the next day without doing any jail time," the supervisor said. "That's why we need The Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act which will allow district attorney's offices across the state to charge repeat offenders with felonies." 

Authorities credited the success of the operation to multiple factors, including collaboration with officers, strengthening partnerships with major retail centers and frequently targeted stores, along with improved information-sharing practices.

"The Hillsdale Shopping Center appreciates the efforts of the Organized Retail Theft (ORT) Grant program within the community," said Larry Ivich, general manager for the mall.

Along with increased enforcement, a deputy district attorney has been assigned to the task force to facilitate prosecutions.

"Together with our partners and stakeholders, we will continue to combat organized retail theft and safeguard the well-being of our residents and businesses," authorities said.

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