Boston Police are trying to track down a highly organized crew of four shoplifters who have made off with nearly $200,000 in high-end merchandise from designer boutiques on Newbury Street and the Copley Place mall.
The thefts have taken place over the last month, police said at an afternoon press conference at the Area D-4 station in the South End.
Five times since Sept. 1, the men have strolled into stores and robbed various items, but with a special attention being given to high end pocketbooks, said Boston Police Lt. Detective Michael Conley.
The thieves have even hit the same stores twice during their spree.
The Chanel store was robbed on Sept. 14, and again on Oct. 1. The crew also struck the Louis Vuitton boutique in the Copley Place Mall on Sept. 16 and on Sept. 26. They also targeted the Gucci store was robbed on Sept. 17, police said.
No one has been hurt and police said the crew has not shown any weapons, but has made veiled threats to security guards who have approached them, saying " 'you don't want to get hurt over this,' '' Conley said.
"These are shoplifting incidents but they are pretty significant thefts,'' Conley said. While no violence has taken place, Conley said the sheer volume of thefts is greater than what is normally seen in shoplifting investigations.
Police have assigned additional units, including plainclothes officers, to patrol and maintain a presence in the area, said Capt. Paul Ivens, commander of D-4, which includes the Back Bay.
Police said this shoplifting gangs are not uncommon in large cities, and often they do not live in the area. Conley said similar groups from New York have hit Boston in the past.