Safeway employees injured in scuffle

One teen caught stealing baby formula, others got away

A Safeway employee was punched and knocked out while trying to detain teenagers suspected of shoplifting baby formula from the Safeway on California Street on Thursday, June 23, police said. Two teenage suspects got away with accomplices, while a third was arrested after more than $250 worth of baby formula was found in her purse, said Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie.

The struggle broke out when one store security employee tried to detain a girl of about 16 who was suspected of shoplifting formula. She resisted, and then another girl and a teenage boy ran up and punched the 21-year-old employee in the face, Wylie said. They threw him on the hood of a car, where he briefly lost consciousness, and then kicked him when he was on the ground, she said.

Those teens jumped into a gray SUV with several other teens and sped away, Wylie said.

Meanwhile, a 19-year-old store security employee chased after the 13-year-old girl who had wrestled free while being handcuffed. He caught the girl, handcuffed her and carried her back to the store when she refused to walk, Wylie said. Ten cans of baby formula worth $254.59 were found in her purse and a gift big she had allegedly taken from the store, Wylie said.

The incident started shortly before 3 p.m. when the 21-year-old Safeway employee noticed three girls walking into the store with what seemed to be empty purses. He followed them to the baby supplies aisle, where he observed them filling their purses with formula, and coordinated with his 19-year-old colleague who was monitoring surveillance cameras, she said.

"Baby formula is expensive," Wylie said in an email. "People steal it and then sell it on the street for cheaper than the stores sell it. It's a lucrative crime and not an uncommon product to steal."

This incident had the earmarks of an organized crime for profit, and not a case of young mothers stealing baby formula they could not afford in order to feed their babies, Wylie said.

Mountain View detectives have taken over the investigation and are working to identify the remaining suspects, said Wylie. The suspected shoplifter who got away is described as thin, black, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, between the ages of 16 and 17 and with long hair styled in an Afro, Wylie said. At least six people were in the SUV that fled the scene, she said.

The injured Safeway employee suffered scrapes and bruises, and had slurred speech and slight disorientation following the attack, Wylie said. He was taken to a local hospital.


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Posted by Thom
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Too bad spanking is frowned upon.

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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 25, 2011 at 8:37 am

The 13 year-old will give up the others, and they'll all be escorted through the revolving doors of our so-called "justice" system. Never mind their flagrant and wanton disregard for human life. They're "underprivileged." It'll cost the taxpayers a fortune, and they'll wind up back on the streets perpetrating even more mayhem.

There's going to be more of this. A lot more.

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Posted by Dr. Johnson
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

It is interesting to note that nature provides mothers with the perfect food for infants. Mother's milk.
When babies get older and start eating solid food, baby food is just regular food that has been mushed up in a blender.
Amazing that so much money is wasted on so-called baby food and baby formulas.

Do not get me started on the waste of money for pet foods.

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Posted by O R
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 25, 2011 at 10:50 am

Where are the adults? We have a group of employed teens fighting poor, stupid teens. If the taxpayers demanded longer school hours and accountability, these teens may not be stealing baby formula at 3pm on a Thursday, instead, they would be at summer camp or school, learning something useful like math and economics.
Safeway is overinflated. 254.59 dollars worth is a hundredth to what it will cost us taxpayers in police hours for investigations, prosecuting, court trials, juvenile hall, jail etc. and, possible overtime for cops working this case. We all love OT!
I've seen lemonade stands but where oh where are the baby formula stands? I've walked down Haight-Ashbury and some people randomly call out "Buds. Buds." I had no idea what that meant. I can't imagine being approached by a group of rough looking teens saying, "Hey, baby formula, man." Who knew this would be so "lucrative".
Last, "Organized crime"? Oh please! Whatever their intentions may have been, it was hardly organized. I will now suspect every SUV with a group of teens, probably of the same ethnicity, parked at a grocery store ready to pull off a baby formula heist. A "distraction" in the liquor isle may have had just a little bit more forethought.

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Posted by Teacher mom
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Dear OR, why should the taxpayers and teachers be responsible for the teens? The facts are that no one on this thread knows why they stole the formula or if they were needy or poor. I think it's a shame it happened and also wonder where the adults at Safeway were.

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm

@Dr. Johnson: Some mothers have problems lactating. Some mothers adopt infants and are therefore not lactating.

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Posted by ridiculous
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

@OR... yes, organized crime. there were three of them... all underage to avoid real time if they get caught... two would not be suspect browsing the formula aisle (the girls) and one boy for muscle if things went downhill. The (presumably) youngest had 10 cans of powdered formula in her purse, and I'm guessing the others did not walk away empty handed. So... we are talking what? $500-$1K worth of baby formula? And extended school hours? huh? Since when is school a substitute for juvenile hall? Our schools already cater too much to the least common denominator... this is a failure in parenting, not a failure in education.

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Posted by Monte
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

Since when are 19 & 21 year olds in charge of security? Although they are "technically" adults, no one at that age has the maturity to deal with what is reported here - an organized effort. I know many Safeway (& other store items) end up in flea markets. The "stamps" the stores put on these items aren't much of a deterrent.

Safeway needs to get more adults in this store. There is a large liquor aisle, a pharmacy and frequently unmanned customer service where the cigarettes are - all easy items for theft. In addition, there are often close juggling of carts which can cause confusion when these kids try to follow shoplifters.

I would be afraid to be an employee there!!!

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Posted by O R
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 26, 2011 at 11:27 am

There's so much info that was left out. I wish Liz Wylie, the Voice and all of Bay Area media would do a better job educating us as to why these crimes take place. We have a right to know! I vote and I would like to be a better informed voter.
Google, "Baby Formula illegal". The market of cheap formula to poor, uneducated, non-lactating moms is very small but sadly, does exist. Lactating moms, breastfeeding is the way to go. What is so lucrative is that the formula is used as a filler in drugs like cocaine, meth and heroine. The powdered form increases the drug quantity and yet decreases the quality and potency allowing the drug dealer to make a quick and huge profit. Imagine buying a BMW, but doesn't go faster than 65 and can't return it. Call your lawyer and B.B.B? Yeah, right. The drug user/dealer, with their palette of unstable emotional issues, will probably get their guns and retaliate. Fact: 2011, San Jose homicide rate is currently at 28. Oakland at 58. Regrettably, I'm betting this number will double by Dec. Most related to gangs. Side note, remember a Chinese company sold us bad baby formula a couple years ago?
I was hoping for a group of misguided, mixed ethnic teens lifting goods to distribute to poor moms while singing "We are the World" but unfortunately, this band of loosely organized entrepreneurs are on the wrong side of the fence. Bad parenting? Agree but the cycle continues. It is a cycle and there's a lot of evidence that state, cycles in families continue generation after generation. Media like the Voice and the city communications officers simply perpetuate the stereotypes and exacerbates the cycles.
Finally dear Teacher Mom, Sunnyvale does have an intervention program starting in the fifth grade. The community officers help, guide and mentor students in trying to keep them on the right track and it is working but always at risk with budget cuts. I also have a friend in city finance, the total bill for this crime, roughly estimating, will be 100k dollars. We are paying a high price for conviction and punishment.

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Posted by Christopher j
a resident of Gemello
on Jun 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

i Work Loss prevention for Safeway and would like to add a few things to this article. ORC groups ( Organized retail crime) is a billion dollar industry in the United States, These groups go out a few days week and hit multiple stores stealing one particular item. That day that we had the scuffle, the group was already wanted and identified from 3 other stores for the same heist. They came into our store all three loaded up on over $800 worth of formula and when stopped outside fought us. My partner was not beat up by three people, It was 5 people, Scum of the earth people as we call them. And to whoever said kids beating up kids, we are 19 and 21 I am 6'3 at 230 pounds and my partner not much different. We are bug guys that can easily handle our jobs when its not a 7 on 2 fight for our lives

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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 26, 2011 at 11:43 am

This nonsense won't stop until a gang of these thugs gets gunned down in a parking lot, which is what they deserve and what the citizenry needs.

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Posted by Anthony
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm

RE: O R "I also have a friend in city finance, the total bill for this crime, roughly estimating, will be 100k dollars. We are paying a high price for conviction and punishment."

If we outsource prisons, like we do all of our professional/technical jobs, we could save millions of dollars. If criminals knew that they would serve their time in a prison in China or India, what do you think would happen to the crime rate?
Think smart, economically smart, outsource incarceration.

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Posted by Young Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Forgive my older self. Us old timers become a bit senile when we have to resort to wearing diapers to catch our poop. Gun me down instead, I'm already headed out the door.

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Posted by Mr. Ironic
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 27, 2011 at 9:40 am

Wow baby formula? teenagers? Really?

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Posted by Mark
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

The SUV that these teenage punks escaped in obviously belongs to one of their mommies or daddies. HEY, WHICH ONE OF YOU OWNS A GRAY SUV THAT YOU PERMIT YOUR SPOILED, IRRESPONSIBLE LOSER TEENAGER AND HIS/HER LOSER FRIENDS TO DRIVE AROUND IN??? The police should focus their efforts to locate the other young, future-felons in the local high schools. "Hey, what do you guys wanna do after school?" -- "Let's go steal baby formula." ... dumb@ss punks who are too ignorant to be out in society ...

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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm

It's really time that the black community began to address their hideous racism problem. Black Americans are the most racist group in this country.

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Posted by DCS
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 28, 2011 at 11:47 pm

So much violence in Mt. View recently! I don't tihnk it's going ot get any better either.

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Posted by OR
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

Dear Old and Young Ben,
I find your comment objectionable. I'm sure you're not too old to query baby formula and illegal drugs in your Google field. You'll find articles that report 80% of drugs dealers and users are white Americans who fill their drug with substitutes to make quick buck. Palin's own hometown, ranked highest in meth consumption in the States. As for your other comment, my dad and you should get together. My 83 year dad won't wear Depends either. House stinks like... So you and him can stroll down to that Safeway and pick some up. Please, leave race out of this or, take a black history class at one of our fine, local colleges.

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Posted by Marshall
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I'd suggest more CCWs in an area might reduce these types of crimes....(except in the hands of untrained idiots like Sarah Palin!)

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Posted by Sal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm

It's really time that the Old Ben community began to address their hideous racism problem. Old Ben's are the most racist group in this country.

I said it on the internet, so its true!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Stierlin Estates

on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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