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San Francisco recovers $2 million in stolen electronics, clothing

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco authorities recovered about $2 million in suspected stolen electronics and clothing during a bust of what they called a sophisticated fencing operation, the district attorney's office announced Thursday.

Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus said in a statement that organized fencing operations are fueling San Francisco's notoriously high property crime rate and that disrupting the market for stolen goods should reduce the incentive to steal. The operation was carried out by San Francisco Police, California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other agencies.

Apple laptops, tablets, rows of smartphones and piles of digital cameras filled tables at the press conference. Among the recovered items were shampoo and laundry detergent.

Authorities collected electronics with serial numbers removed, as well as $750,000 worth of tagged clothing items. The items appear to have been stolen from retail stores and through auto burglaries and package theft.

Officers found an electronic chop shop that was harvesting stolen phones and laptops for parts. They also found a business that “consistently mailed an unusually high number of packages, often out-of-state," according to the statement.

“We appreciate the partnership with the DA's office and are glad that our security camera network of 375 cameras contributed to this effort," said Karin Flood, executive director of downtown's Union Square Business Improvement District.

Car burglaries have dogged San Francisco and tourists and residents are frequently warned to lock up valuables. In August, thieves broke into a rental vehicle being used by ESPN analyst and former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and made off with a bag, laptop, camera and pieces of jewelry.

The district attorney's office is asking victims of theft to call the office to be reunited with property and help ongoing investigations.

The operation involved dozens of officers from multiple departments. Details of possible arrests were not made public.

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