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Shoplifters strike Stanford Shopping Center

Police investigate four crime in five days totaling about $10K in lost merchandise

Palo Alto police are investigating a string of thefts that took place at Stanford Shopping Center stores over a five-day period beginning last week. In each of the four incidences, people went into stores at the mall and walked away with clothing and accessories totaling more than $1,700.

Police Detective Sgt. Brian Philip said there is no evidence to indicate that the crimes are linked as of Friday.

Once all of the video surveillance is acquired, police will have a better chance of identifying suspects and determining whether they acted alone or in an organized group, he said.

"Crews often travel from place to place, and oftentimes we'll identify them as an organized retail crew," Philip said, "Generally speaking, this stuff all gets resold, and that's the motive."

Philip said these types of thefts tend to pick up around the holidays.

"We're approaching (the holidays), but it's kind of a little early," he added.

The first reported theft occurred on Friday, Oct. 20, at around noon. Police said 10 jackets, 14 pullover sweaters and 10 pairs of pants totaling nearly $2,000 were stolen from Pink by Victoria's Secret. The store's surveillance videos were not readily available and no suspects had been identified as of Friday morning, Philip said.

On Saturday, Oct. 21, at around 1 p.m., eight purses totaling $4,400 were stolen from Tory Burch. Surveillance video shows three black women in their 20s, all with long dark hair, concealing merchandise in bags before walking out of the store, police said.

On Monday, police said four Burberry scarves worth $1,700 were stolen from Neiman Marcus at around 2 p.m. Surveillance footage shows a black man in his mid-30s wearing a blue-and-orange striped shirt and blue jeans.

And on Tuesday, 50 pairs of athletic pants were shoplifted from Victoria's Secret sometime between 7 and 8 p.m., according to police. Investigators have yet to view the surveillance video in the Tuesday case and there were no witness accounts.

Philip said the thefts were most likely planned for times that the mall was the busiest.

Citywide, over the past eight weeks, there has been an average of three theft cases involving stolen goods valued at more than $950 reported to police each week. There were nine reported so far this week, according to the police log.

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