The RealReal became the latest store targeted in a string of expensive handbag thefts in Palo Alto on Monday after a coordinated group of seven men raided the retailer's downtown store, police said Tuesday.
A security guard at the 379 University Ave. store called police on June 21 shortly before 6 p.m. to report the theft, which took place while the luxury consignment store near Waverley Street was open. Officers responded immediately but the men had already fled, Palo Alto police said in a press release.
Five men entered the store and began ripping handbags from security cables, according to police. The store's on-duty security officer, who is in his 30s, attempted to block their exit, but the group pushed him out of the way.
The security officer followed them out of the store, where he was confronted by two other men who had stayed outside during the theft. One man demanded the other to "pull the gun" and the second man allegedly told the security officer, "Don't make me pull the gun." The security officer didn't see a weapon, police said.
The seven men ran east on University Avenue. The security officer reported hearing tires screeching from vehicles on Waverley Street, but didn't see them.
Employees estimated the group stole about 20 handbags with a total value of more than $50,000, police said.
The security officer and another employee, a woman in her 20s, described the group as Black men in their early 20s. All were wearing face coverings and clothing with the hoods up. Police will not be releasing any surveillance images of the incident; the footage would not aid in the identification of the men, they said.
Palo Alto officers are working with regional law enforcement agencies to find out if the same group of individuals might be connected to any similar thefts in other cities, police said.
Investigators are exploring whether Monday's theft is associated with two other recent, similar cases that occurred at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto at Neiman Marcus on May 19, when a coordinated group stole $150,000 worth of handbags, and on June 7 at Louis Vuitton, which lost $100,000 in a similar heist.
Anyone with information about Monday's 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.