More than $150,000 worth of handbags were stolen from the Neiman Marcus department store at Stanford Shopping Center by a "coordinated group" of at least 10 people on Wednesday afternoon, according to Palo Alto police.
Officers responded to the mall at 180 El Camino Real after an emergency dispatcher received a call around 12:20 p.m. from someone who heard second-hand that a man was inside the department store with a gun, according to a press release.
Soon after police reached the scene, they found out the information of an armed man was a false report. They learned the store was hit by a group of at least 10 people who took 43 handbags, including some that were forced from security cables, breaking some glass display cabinets in the process, police said.
The group, made up of five males and five females, fled the store in three vehicles before officers arrived. Officers suspect two more people worked with the thieves by serving as their getaway drivers, but didn't go inside the store, according to police.
Investigators found no evidence that the group was armed, the release states. They believe the sound of glass breaking was mistaken for a gunshot, which may have led to the false report of an armed person.
Based on witness accounts, the thieves were described as Black males and females who wore face coverings and clothes with hoods. The three getaway vehicles were a white Ford Mustang and two Infiniti four-door sedans, one that was white and another that was dark blue, police said.
Officers plan to connect with other agencies in the area to see if the group is linked to other similar thefts in nearby cities.
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.