Orange County DA to would-be thieves: 'I will throw the book at you'

Leanne Suter Image
Thursday, August 31, 2023
Orange County DA cracking down on large-scale thefts
District Attorney Todd Spitzer is sending a stern warning to anyone planning large-scale thefts in Orange County.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is sending a stern warning to anyone planning large-scale thefts in his jurisdiction in the wake of recent high-profile smash-and-grab crimes.

"I will throw the book at you, and I will charge you with everything I can charge you with," Spitzer said. "And I will hold the judges accountable if they don't back us up."

Retailers in Southern California have recently been victimized by large-scale thefts when groups of people show up in groups for mass shoplifting events or to enter stores and smash and grab from display cases.

Spitzer said a majority of the smash-and-grabs currently being prosecuted in Orange County involve people from Los Angeles and outlying jurisdictions, or Chilean nationals exploiting a visa waiver program.

The DA told Eyewitness News on Wednesday that he is cracking down on such crimes with increased bail and maximum charges.

"If you're a 'revolving door' in L.A., and you think you're gonna get away with that in my county you've got another thing coming," Spitzer said. "We're charging every single thing that we can, including all strikes."

According to the California Department of Justice, the number of crimes in the county has jumped to peak levels seen six years ago.

Irvine police Tuesday announced the arrests of two women from Northern California who are accused of returning and exchanging stolen clothing to an H&M store "as part of a complex fraud scheme related to organized retail theft."

"We believe these females are part of a large organized retail crew operating across the United States," Irvine police spokesperson Kyle Oldoerp said. "Some of the merchandise that was located was stolen as far away as Chicago."

Recently, a jewelry store in Irvine was the target of a smash-and-grab caught on video, and a Gucci store at South Coast Plaza was hit by "flash mob" burglars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.