Calling a recent rash of retail robbery crimes “unacceptable,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced a multi-agency task force on Thursday to crack down on brazen “flash mob” burglary crews.
“What we’ve seen over just the past week in the city of Los Angeles and in the cities surrounding us is unacceptable, and today we are here to announce regional action,” Bass said during a news conference at L.A. City Hall.
The mayor told reporters the “Organized Retail Crimes Task Force” will focus on preventing crime throughout Los Angeles County.
The task force includes detectives and investigators from the LAPD, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Glendale Police Department, Burbank Police Department, Beverly Hills Police Department, Santa Monica Police Department, U.S. Marshals, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They’ll be aided by surveillance and apprehension teams.
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“These brazen smash-and-grab type robberies and thefts, what have you, will not be tolerated,” Glendale Police Chief Manny Cid said during the news conference. “We stand united in this mission.”
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department defines flash mob or smash-and-grab robberies as “an organized form of retail crime in which a large group of participants enter a retail shop or convenience store,” and overwhelm employees and security guards.
A string of stores have been hit over the past two years in L.A.’s Fairfax District, Beverly Grove and Hancock Park neighborhoods, leaving residents and business owners frustrated. The crimes gained new urgency this month after thieves targeted high-end malls in L.A. and nearby Glendale.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, a flash mob ransacked a Nordstrom inside the Westfield Topanga mall in L.A.’s Canoga Park neighborhood in broad daylight.
“More than 30 people entered the store at once and within minutes grabbed more than $300,000 worth of merchandise from displays near the entrance,” the LAPD said in a news release.
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Meantime, police in Glendale said Thursday they’ve made an arrest in connection with last week’s flash mob burglary at the Americana at Brand shopping center.
According to a news release from Glendale PD, Ivan Isaac Ramirez, 23, of Los Angeles was taken into custody and booked on charges including organized retail theft, burglary, grand theft and conspiracy. Detectives have a warrant out for 21-year-old Brianna Jimenez of Los Angeles.
Police allege the two were among at least 30 suspects involved in a flash mob heist at the Americana at Brand’s Yves Saint Laurent boutique on Tuesday Aug. 8. Thieves made off with an estimated $400,000 in merchandise, according to Glendale police.
That crime occurred just days after about “a dozen individuals wearing hoods, masks, gloves” tried to break into the Gucci store at the Americana at Brand in the early morning hours of Aug. 2, Chief Cid said at Thursday’s news conference.
“Due to an excellent response that night by police officers, this attempt was unsuccessful,” he added.
The suspects fled before police managed to make any arrests.
LAPD Launches Task Force to Crack Down on Retail Robbery
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