California Highway Patrol officers on motorcycles. Courtesy CHP

After flash mobs ransacked a series of stores in the San Francisco Bay Area over the weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the California Highway Patrol to increase presence near major retail sites.

Stores in Union Square in downtown San Francisco and at malls in Walnut Creek and San Jose were hit by mobs numbering in the dozens. Windows were smashed and thieves wearing ski masks carried away merchandise.

A Nordstrom store in The Grove in Los Angeles was hit Monday night in a similar smash-and-grab attack.

“The level of organized retail theft we are seeing is simply unacceptable,” said Newsom late Monday. “Businesses and customers should feel safe while doing their holiday shopping.”

He said CHP saturation patrols in highly-trafficked shopping areas would continue through the holiday weekend, and also vowed to increase spending on law enforcement in California.

“California is substantially increasing CHP’s presence, especially near retail areas, and will be investing even more to aggressively curb retail crime,” Newsom said. “As a small business owner myself, I am resolved to holding these criminals accountable and protecting our local businesses.”

Newsom built a successful chain of wine stores in the Bay Area before turning to politics.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.