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6 people charged in organized ambush thefts from Twin Cities stores during Black Friday

Six people have been charged with being among nearly 20 who plotted and ambushed several retail outlets in the Twin Cities on Black Friday over the Thanksgiving weekend, grabbing thousands of dollars in merchandise in front of stunned shoppers and employees.

"This brazen act by an organized group shocked those who witnessed it first-hand as well as the retail community and law-abiding shoppers who were out making purchases ahead of the busy holiday season," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said Friday, when the charges were unsealed in District Court.

Charged with felony theft are Nathaniel Spears, 27, of Albany, Minn .; Raymone Wright, 22, of Minneapolis; Na'Touri K. Ross, 19, of Minneapolis; and Shaimee NS Robinson-Love, 18, of Bloomington. Two 17-year-olds were charged by summons in juvenile court. The Star Tribune generally does not identify minors who are charged as juveniles.

Best Buy stores in Burnsville, Blaine and Maplewood were targeted, as well as a Dick's Sporting Goods outlet in Richfield, the charges read.

Televisions, computer tablets, a hoverboard and other electronics totaling more than $ 26,000 were taken by the armloads from the Best Buy stores, the criminal complaints read. The charges did not specify the items or the dollar amount in connection with the thefts from Dick's.

Spears, Wright, Ross and Robinson- Love were among "about a dozen other people" who hit each of the four stores on Black Friday, one of the busiest in-person shopping days of the year following the Thanksgiving holiday.

"The investigation into these events remains ongoing," read a statement Friday from Choi's office, "and more individuals may be charged in Ramsey and other counties if more evidence can be gathered by investigators."

Spears has been arrested, released on a $ 30,000 bond and is due in court on Feb. 15. A message was left with his attorney seeking a response to the allegations. The other adults charged have warrants out for their arrest.

Mob thefts also occurred elsewhere in major cities around the country in November. Several burglaries were reported in Chicago stores on Black Friday. Smash-and-grab incidents were reported earlier in the month at high-end brand outlets such as Louis Vuitton in the San Francisco area. Walgreens temporarily closed several of its drugstores in San Francisco, citing "organized retail crime."

According to the charges:

About 6 pm on Nov. 26, the group stole more than $ 7,300 in merchandise from the Best Buy in Maplewood and fled in various vehicles that were waiting.

The scenario played out much the same way on the same day at the other Best Buy stores and at Dick's, suggesting that the mass thefts were "organized and not random," the statement from Choi's office read.

A tipster implicated Wright, who also goes by the name Ra'Laisa Wright and is associated with a Facebook page called "Run Outs by Ralai." Postings on the page bragged about organized retail thefts, and the tipster said Wright was on Facebook Live showing a trove of electronics.

One posting read: "This is a lifestyle and I'm proud to say I'm the first certified booster with an LLC. Run Outs by Ralai offers the best boosting service in Minnesota. We are planning to expand this year ... and we are getting everything y'all need. "

Police went to Wright's home and seized a car that was used in the thefts. Wright came out, asked why it was being towed and denied participating in the thefts but acknowledged that she also goes by Ra'Laisa Wright.

Wright did say a group of people met at a gas station in Minneapolis on Broadway and plotted the thefts. Wright said each person involved was selling the stolen goods individually, but declined to implicate anyone by name.

Wright's criminal history in Minnesota includes a third-degree assault conviction in Hennepin County.

Spears has been convicted of the same offense in Sherburne County, and awaits sentencing in Stearns County for illegal weapons possession.

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