Authorities in Riverside are investigating a series of robberies in which thieves allegedly stole thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from local stores.
A witness captured cell phone video of a group of robbers running out of the Nordstrom Rack in Riverside Plaza.
The robbery happened on Oct. 11, and police say surveillance video captured moments later shows the thieves using scissors to cut security cables before stealing $3,000 worth of purses.
“You had employees trying to stop them, physically stop them, which now goes from theft to robbery,” said Officer Ryan Railsback.
Railsback says that’s because the suspects had scissors, so the crime escalated from felony grand larceny, to aggravated robbery, and that automatically increases the prison sentence.
“They use force or fear, with some kind of weapon,” Railsback said.
Riverside police are dealing with a series of similar crimes, including one involving a man and woman at the Riverside Smart and Final on Oct. 1.
The two are seen forcing their way out the front door, carrying a shopping cart full of diapers and detergent.
Even a good Samaritan tries to intervene, but the thieves still manage to escape.
“Sometimes I want to be speechless because to see people doing this will fill up a shopping cart, two shopping carts in the middle of the day,” Railsback said. “And just walk out like you’re entitled to this and the employees are doing their job to stop you and you’re just going to push yourself, maybe even hurt them… What kind of person does this?”
Railsback says a similar theft happened at another smart and final in Riverside, but it’s still unclear if the same suspects were involved in both.
He hopes someone will recognize the thieves from the surveillance footage, and he has a strong warning for them.
“Here in Riverside County we will prosecute you. We have the district attorney’s office coming after you,” Railsback.
“They’ll give you harsh consequences in the hope that you won’t think about it anymore.
Railsback says if you witness a theft, don’t intervene, just try to record a video and get the license plate if it’s safe to do so.