Nine people investigators say took part in an organized and systematic looting spree through downtown Walnut Creek earlier this year have been charged by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
Hundreds of people, including some police maintain are part of mobile, organized gangs who travel the state to pull off swarming, “blitz-style” shoplifting raids on retail outlets, arrived in the city May 31 and battered their way into dozens of local businesses, carrying off armloads of goods.
One woman was shot during the rampage, suffering an arm wound, and a curfew was imposed later in the day. Officials put the loss in damage done to businesses and goods stolen at between $3 and $4 million.
The incident, which stunned a city and residents already reeling from the onset of COVID-19 and national protests following the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, left merchants and citizens angry.
The nine – eight of whom are women – were subsequently identified as police launched an investigation into the spree. Additional suspects are still being sought, driven by surveillance video capturing segments of the incident and information shared with other cities, agencies victimized by the roving crews of shoplifters.
The case was presented to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office last month with felony charges of “burglary during a state of emergency” filed against seven suspects who allegedly looted the large Macy’s store in downtown Walnut Creek, and an eighth who looted a Victoria’s Secret store.
A misdemeanor charge of burglary during a state of emergency was also filed against one suspect who allegedly looted a Site for Sore Eyes location.
The “state of emergency” condition stems from the March 4 emergency declaration by Gov. Gavin Newsom relating to the burgeoning pandemic.
Those facing charges include: Yanai Tadesse, 20, of Oakland; Lashanda Breedlove, 38, of Oakland; Alayshia Cheatham, 21, of Elk Grove; Msshaniequa George, 30, of Lemoore; Labria Ardoin, 26, of Antioch; Jaqueline Currington, 29, from Richmond; and Kaytiana Pennington, 20, Aljonique Mitchell, 26, and Kiannis Woods, 19, all from San Leandro.