BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The California Highway Patrol conducted three blitz operations over Saturday and Sunday in the Central Valley, recovering nearly 700 items valued at more than $58,000.

The result of the blitz was the arrest of 51 suspects.

“The public has an expectation — to go out in public and shop with their families without experiencing lawlessness,” said Ceto Ortiz with the California Highway Patrol at an afternoon press conference on Wednesday in Fresno.

A blitz is a team operation between law enforcement and store security to identify, deter and prevent shoplifting. The California Highway Patrol says these major retail theft blitz operations will continue to take place in cities hit the hardest by shoplifting, including Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto and Visalia.

CHP Central Division Chief Rodney Ellison reported that more than $30,000,000 worth of stolen merchandise has been recovered since 2019 from mostly big box retailers.

Authorities say communication is key in bringing retail theft down.

“This is something that we’re seeing an increase across the state,” said Ortiz. “These brazen robberies are something we see on the news, maybe something you’ve seen in person.”

On Saturday, Aug. 12, a mob of 50 looters strong ransacked the shelves at the Nordstrom department store located at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Los Angeles. CHP said looters stole more than $300,000 worth of merchandise and attacked store security in the process.

The California Highway Patrol has a message for the public who want to see an end to shoplifting. If you see retail theft in action, contact law enforcement and contact store security to report what you see.