Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Mob Smash-And-Grab Robberies Prompt Political Backlash In LA

A security guard stands outside the Nordstrom store Tuesday at The Grove retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles. Los Angeles police said a group of thieves smashed windows at the department store at the luxury mall late Monday.
A security guard stands outside the Nordstrom store Tuesday at The Grove retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles. Los Angeles police said a group of thieves smashed windows at the department store at the luxury mall late Monday. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia)

LOS ANGELES, CA — Police arrested three people they said were connected to a smash-and-grab robbery Monday night by a mob of at least 20 people at a Nordstrom store at The Grove.

The robbery occurred just before 11 p.m. when a mob descended on the Nordstrom, using a sledgehammer and an electric scooter/bike to smash a window and raid the store. According to police, the robbery was the latest in a string of heists conducted by large groups of thieves.


Crimes like these “have a profoundly greater impact on the sense of safety and security than simply the dollar loss of the merchandise,” Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti seemed lay the blame on the district attorney’s office.

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“There’s no place for this kind of criminal behavior,” Garcetti said. “It needs to be addressed. There need to be consequences. We need a jail system that will step up and do some of the rehabilitative work.”

Garcetti went so far as to voice frustration with local prosecutors, saying that committing a crime needs to carry a “penalty that doesn’t seem to exist right now.”

Monday’s Nordstrom smash-and-grab robbery ended in three arrests because Los Angeles Police Department officers were in the area and heard the break-in occur, Moore said. They arrived in time to see suspects fleeing the scene in at least four different vehicles. They chased one onto on the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and the Harbor (110) Freeway into South Los Angeles, according to LAPD Officer Drake Madison.

The suspects bailed out of the vehicle and attempted to outrun the officers, but police set up a perimeter around Hoover Street and Vermont Avenue, eventually capturing three people. In the abandoned vehicle, police found several items of clothing, at least one cash register and gloves, Madison said.

The string of similar crimes had similar strategies of alarming and overwhelming employees and witnesses.

On Sunday, storefront windows of the Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue stores in Beverly Hills were smashed during attempted burglaries.

“Multiple suspects traveling in several vehicles descended on the locations and used a sledgehammer to try to break through front windows,” Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Anthony Adams said. The burglars did not get into the stores, and nothing was taken, according to police.

And at about 9:45 p.m. Monday, six people entered a CVS Pharmacy in the 5800 block of South Vermont Avenue in the South Los Angeles area and stole three cash registers, taking about $8,500 in cash, Madison said. It was unclear if the same people later targeted The Grove.

In the Walnut Creek area in Northern California on Saturday night, about 80 people descended upon a Nordstrom store and stole merchandise before fleeing in numerous vehicles. Some arrests were reported. That crime came a day after several stores in San Francisco’s Union Square were targeted by people who smashed windows and fled in vehicles.

During a media briefing while touring a Bay area vaccine clinic Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom reacted to the crimes.

“I have no sympathy, no empathy whatsoever, for people smashing and grabbing, stealing people’s items, creating havoc and terror on our streets. None. Period. Full stop,” Newsom said. “We want real accountability. We want people prosecuted, and we want people to feel safe this holiday season.”

Grove developer Rick Caruso, who is considering a run for Los Angeles mayor, told reporters he blames the rise of such brazen crimes on elected leaders, notably District Attorney George Gascon.

“It’s a manifestation of deciding we’re doing to defund the cops,” Caruso told ABC7. “It’s a manifestation of deciding we’re not going to prosecute crimes. I see my city being torn apart because of bad decisions by leaders.”

The thefts are believed to be part of sophisticated criminal networks that recruit mainly young people to steal merchandise in stores throughout the country and then sell it in online marketplaces. Experts and law enforcement officials say the thefts are ratcheting up as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

The National Retail Federation said a recent survey found stores are seeing an increase in organized thefts and perpetrators being more aggressive.–176234566/–176234566/–176234566/


The electronics chain Best Buy on Tuesday cited organized theft as one of the reasons for a decline in gross profit margin in the third quarter.

“This is a real issue that hurts and scares real people,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry told analysts during a conference call Tuesday.

Moore, the LAPD chief, told the Police Commission on Tuesday morning that the department would step up patrols, “dedicating resources to some of these higher-end locations to deter further acts of violence.”

City News Service, the Associated Press and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.

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