Holiday shoppers advised to be alert amid smash-and-grab robbery trend

Santana Row in West San Jose

Simultaneous smash-and-grab robberies at Santana Row and Westfield Valley Fair have local law enforcement on high alert. Similar heists occurred this past week in Hayward, Walnut Creek, and San Francisco. Some involved exchanges of gunfire.

At a press conference earlier this week, San Jose police Sgt. Christian Camarillo said his department is communicating with several other Bay Area law enforcement agencies regarding the unnerving trend.

Stg. Camarillo warned residents to be cautious as the holiday season approaches.

“People need to be alert,” he said, adding, “We can’t be everywhere at the same time. We do need citizens’ help; when they see suspicious activity occurring, please let us know, especially at the malls.”

Thieves are becoming emboldened, moving to different locations, Sgt. Camarillo said.

“Everyone’s on high alert in different parts of the Bay Area where this has happened, especially San Francisco,” he said. “We don’t know what made them come to the South Bay, San Jose specifically, but they picked the wrong city to do this in this weekend.”

On Sunday night, a group of two women and at least two men, one carrying a visible gun in his waistband, made off with an estimated $40,000 in merchandise from the Lululemon store in Santana Row, said Sgt. Camarillo. All suspects were gone before police arrived to the scene.

 “This is who we’re dealing with,” the sergeant said. “This isn’t a crime of opportunity, it’s very planned and organized. They are armed.”

Around the same time Sunday, thieves made off with over $7,000 of merchandise from a Westfield Valley Fair Mall sunglass store. Mall security guards alerted the police of suspicious activity after several cars with concealed license plates gathered.

Yesterday, two suspects were arrested after taking $2,000 worth of merchandise from the women’s Macy’s at Valley Fair and attempting to flee on foot, according to reports. The suspects are due to be booked for felony theft and burglary.

“We are coordinating with local law enforcement and are taking additional steps to ensure our property is as secure as possible for both retailers and shoppers,” a Westfield Valley Fair spokesperson told ABC7.

Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, the City of San Jose, and Mayor Sam Liccardo have all declined to comment on the recent robberies.

KPIX 5 has compiled a full timeline of recent incidents. The timeline can be viewed here.

You can report suspicious activity to the California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force or learn more about the program at