SAN FRANCISCO -- It was like a heist from a movie--a movie like "Ocean's Eleven." A plot that even makes former FBI agent Rick Smith marvel at the thieves' creativity.
"You have to give them some credit for an ingenious idea."
It happened earlier this month.
"The police department received a report from a local shipping company that some high-end merchandise destined for a US retailer had been stolen," San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Andraychek said.
That's all police will say, but a source with knowledge of the theft tells us how it went down. The shipping company is UPS. The retailer--the Louis Vuitton store in Union Square.
The UPS Center on Potrero received a call from someone who said he was from the Louis Vuitton store. The caller reportedly asked UPS to stop deliveries temporarily because its basement storage area was flooded and that someone would come by and pick up its shipments.
For three days, a driver purporting to be from Louis Vuitton made the pickups at UPS and then disappeared with hundreds of thousands of dollars of expensive Louis Vuitton products.
By the end of the week, the store asked why its deliveries had stopped. UPS said it was because of the flooding. But in fact, the basement was dry. And the store knew nothing about the pickups.
Smith, who's now a security consultant, says UPS must have protocols which weren't followed.
"There's got to be some sort of process, security procedures for contacting the vendor and then confirming that they had a problem with their water problem there."
Smith also questions if UPS checked the credentials of the driver who picked up the shipments.
As for the stolen merchandise?
"They fence it to a broker. And he gets rid of it on the black market," Smith said.
Louis Vuitton and UPS declined to comment. Police say the investigation continues.
Creative lie allows thieves to steal thousands of dollars in Louis Vuitton merchandise from San Francisco store