Walnut Creek police are urging shoppers to be on alert after a spike in recent daylight downtown robberies.
The latest incident happened Sunday at Labels Luxury Consignment on North Main Street, leaving many rattled just as the holiday shopping season is about to start.
The owner told NBC Bay Area about a half dozen masked men ran in and grabbed merchandise from the shelves, stealing thousands of dollars worth of items in mere seconds.
“We had about six to eight male subjects enter labels, and steal about over 50 handbags,” said Lieutenant Bruce Jower of the Walnut Creek Police Department.
Walnut Creek police say four daylight downtown robberies have taken place in the last few weeks.
“I heard the screaming … and I turned around,” said Hector Barraza. He describes a customer’s reaction last Wednesday when someone stole her purse and jumped into a getaway car as she waited outside for her car to be washed.
“She’s so scared she was shaking. She started to cry. I told her ‘sit down, don’t worry about it’, everything will be fine,” said Barraza.
Two weeks ago, there were two more daylight holdups. Police say a man eating lunch in the Burger King parking lot was dragged out of his car and robbed at gunpoint. And a family leaving a downtown Thai restaurant after eating lunch was also violently robbed.
“As they were getting in the car, and they were confronted by multiple subjects, and they were also dragged out of the car, I think they fought back a little bit, and their wallets and jewelry was also taken,” said Jower.
“I tend not to bring a purse if that is a thing usually not a lot of jewelry or something like that,” said shopper Angelina De La Cruz.
Shoppers said they’re taking precautions and feel Walnut Creek has become an easy target for criminals.
“There’s lots of people here that have nice things and they’re walking around unaware. And you can get in and out of here pretty easily if I was a criminal I’d come here,” said shopper Shawn Cunanan.
Police say they’re stepping up patrols in the downtown area. They say they arrested a suspect on Friday for two of the recent robberies and are working hard to keep folks safe.
“Don’t be afraid to come to Walnut Creek. Walnut Creek is still a very safe place to visit and shop and dine,” said Jower.
Source: NBC Bay Area