The individuals allegedly entered the stores and stole merchandise in total worth about $1 million in iPads, laptops and other devices, Bonta said during a Feb. 9 press conference. The Palo Alto Apple store at 340 University Ave. was targeted on Aug. 21, 2022. The Pleasanton Apple store at 1 Stoneridge Mall Road was hit on Aug. 5, 2022. The heists took place as customers and store employees looked on.
Other thefts by the group occurred in Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco and Yolo counties between Aug. 2, 2022, and Jan. 27, 2023.
The person behind the Palo Alto theft was identified as Leo David Smith. The other seven defendants in the statewide case are Aron Thomas, Marques Fields, Michael White, David Nesterenko. Mikhail Moroz, Maksim Pazyuk and Rubina G. Yoder (Pazyuk).
Smith, Fields, White and Thomas individually or in concert allegedly entered the stores during 15 incidents and stole electronic devices, which were allegedly fenced in Sacramento.
Stolen items were tracked to Nesterenko's home. He and Moroz, who are neighbors, work for and sell Apple products to IMAX Prices LLC, a company based in Sacramento that is owned and operated by the Pazyuks, according to the legal complaint.
Palo Alto retailers have experienced multiple thefts by groups of individuals over the past few years, with thousands of dollars in merchandise being ripped out of the stores while customers and employees were present. This mode of theft has largely replaced earlier "smash and grab" thefts where groups of 30 to 40 people descended on stores, usually after hours, smashed windows and entered en masse to clear out the stores of expensive clothing, jewelry, electronics and handbags. Apple's stores have been especially targeted.
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