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Apple Store robbery ring: 17 charged in $1M scheme

The alleged crimes took place across 19 counties in California.

This Apple store in New York was crowded as the iPhone XS and XS Max went on sale earlier this month.

This Apple store in New York was crowded as the iPhone XS and XS Max went on sale earlier this month.

Sarah Tew/CNET

California is cracking down on Apple store thieves.

The state's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, on Thursday said 17 people had been arrested and charged in connection with a robbery scheme targeting Apple stores across 19 counties, which caused over $1 million in property loss. The investigation is ongoing.

The people charged allegedly went into the retail stores in large groups wearing hoodies and stealing products on display within seconds. They face charges of conspiracy to commit grand theft.

"Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals. Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking," said Becerra in a release. "We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable."

Becerra's office didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Apple retail stores, with their signature open design, are frequent targets for snatch-and-grabs. In August, a pair of would-be thieves were tackled by Apple shoppers at the Apple store in Thousand Oaks, California. In July, an Apple store in Costa Mesa, California, was robbed by a group of five people who stole $29,000 worth of products from the display tables. The list of incidents goes on.

Apple declined to comment. 

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