SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, December 20, the final results of “Operation Wrecking Ball,” an eight-month-long investigation that culminated in a dozen arrests and the identification of stolen retail items were disclosed.  

According to a press release from the SFPD, the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol Golden Gate Division, and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department all wrapped up totaling around $750,000.  They were able to make a dozen arrests and identify the stolen items.

“Retail theft is not a victimless crime,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. “Big and small businesses are hit hard financially by these thefts, which often endanger employees and discourage law-abiding customers. SFPD is collaborating closely with local businesses and our partner agencies to deter and investigate these crimes to make our City even safer and enable businesses to prosper.”

The operation was organized in April 2018 after law enforcement officials and retailers who were victims held meetings to discuss the burglaries transpiring in the area.  Officers representing allied law enforcement agencies conducted investigations and had undercover surveillance to locate the suspects behind the thefts and fencing of the stolen items. Upon their investigation, officers were able to decipher that the items being stolen were being fenced in regions beyond the Bay Area such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and Texas. 

“By dismantling major fencing operations we can cripple the demand for stolen property,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “We have to keep the pressure up on street level theft, but it’s operations like this that eliminate a market that enables thieves to thrive.”

On December 5, 80 law enforcement officers conducted seven search warrants in San Francisco and a separate one in Daly City.  Upon their searches they identified $750,000 in stolen property. They were able to seize $300,000 of it which included $16,000 in cash and 46 cell phones and 12 suspects were arrested.

“Operation Wrecking Ball’s successful execution depended upon local law enforcement agencies working collaboratively,” said San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy. “The Sheriff’s Department identified those individuals who had active warrants from a list of retail crime suspects. We assisted our law enforcement partners with executing the arrest warrants, recovering stolen goods during the execution of those search warrants and arresting the identified suspects. There’s great public value when law enforcement works together.”

Since the problem was very extensive, the San Francisco Police Department was able to receive aid from California Governor Jerry Brown and the California Highway Patrol to carry out the operation.  

In a police report, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott addressed the severity of the crimes and stated that moving forward, the “SFPD is collaborating closely with local businesses and our partner agencies to deter and investigate these crimes to make our City even safer.”  

The current suspects in custody have not had their identities released to the public.  While arrests have been made and stolen property seized, officers are seeking an additional 28 fugitives with arrest warrants for thefts in San Francisco.