The San Francisco District Attorney’s office recently charged 16 defendants for their alleged participating in a series of thefts in San Francisco and other cities around the United States. The accused persons are alleged to be members of a shoplifting ring dubbed as the “Rainbow Crew” for the colorful outfits that they allegedly wear when committing the smash-and-grab robberies in Union Square.

Piecing Together Series of Thefts

Authorities said that the group started in 2010 and stole from retailers such as Ferragamo, Christian Dior, Mac Cosmetics, Louis Vuitton, and Sunglass Hut. Recent incidents involving theft allegedly by the so-called Rainbow Crew became violent as pepper spray and knives were reportedly used by the perpetrators. Prosecutors said that the arrest was the result of collaboration between the local authorities and the business community in Union Square which provided access to a massive network of surveillance cameras that reportedly aided in the identification of the accused.

While the surveillance cameras are said to be state-of-the-art and could provide a close view of faces and vehicle license plates, not all of the incidents were caught on camera. However, the prosecutors maintain that they have the analytic capacity to investigate the cases and piece them together.

The accused are facing various charges including grand theft, robbery, commercial burglary, and conspiracy, and have been linked to thefts involving goods valued at more than $255,000.

Proving Theft

With the charges brought, the prosecution now must work hard to establish all the elements of the crimes of theft against the defendants. In particular, prosecution must prove that:

  1. The defendants took possession of the goods owned by the complaining witnesses
  2. The defendants took the goods without the owner’s consent
  3. The defendants intended to deprive the owner of the goods permanently
  4. In the charge for grand theft, that the value of the property taken was more than $950

Positive identification of the defendants is likely to be an issue in the cases against the defendants as it is unclear whether prosecution had actual eyewitnesses to the alleged incidents or whether surveillance videos provided clear views of the faces of the perpetrators.

Theft and conspiracy to commit theft are serious charges that can lead to long years of imprisonment and heavy fines. If you are charged with theft under California Penal Code provisions, depending on the circumstances of the incident, you may have a solid theft defense that can lead to a dismissal of the charge/s. Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately before making any statements to arresting authorities.

In Los Angeles, California, we invite you to call the Kestenbaum Law Group at (818) 616-4312 and let our experienced attorneys help you.