Shoplifting girl gang storms Union Square store

Police are hunting for seven young women who reportedly barged into a Union Square store with empty shopping bags Friday and swiped several pricey items.

Employees were instantly suspicious of the women when they stormed into the shop on Maiden Lane — which has a bevy of posh boutique stores — about 2:15 p.m. None of the thieves made any effort to be discreet, police said, as they immediately darted for the shelves and shoved high-value loot into their bags.

Staff members were able to recover most of the items. During the robbery, police said, an employee closed the door to the store in hopes of trapping the women until police arrived.

But despite that effort, the group managed to flee and no arrests have been reported. However, they got away with only a cellphone cover and an employee’s wallet, police said.

Officer Gordon Shyy said Monday that such group robberies are infrequent, but Union Square retailers have complained in the past about similar brazen thefts.

Last year, the manager of a boutique clothing store on Grant Street said as many as eight girls had been entering smaller stores, stealing items and then fleeing in getaway cars. The smaller shops are targeted because they lack the security of larger department stores, police have said.

“It’s apparent they entered the store with the mentality that not everyone would get caught,” Shyy said of the latest incident.

The Tenderloin and Southern police stations have teamed up to stop the various versions of “organized retail crime” that have increased nationwide. They will have a plan in place to deal with shoplifting for the holiday season, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

In a June report from the National Retail Federation, the Bay Area was named one of the nation’s top 10 hotbeds for organized retail crime.

ccopeland@sfexaminer.com

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