Smash-and-grab mob robberies spark Los Angeles clampdown
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles police vowed Thursday to clamp down after a series of violent flash mob robberies by gangs that have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars of luxury goods in brazen daytime raids.
Upmarket stores throughout the United States’ second biggest city have been targeted by masked groups who smash through display boxes and grab designer bags and clothes.
Video clips posted on social media show mobs of up to 50 people rampaging through high-end retailers, breaking glass and yanking away goods attached by security cables.
The raids happen in full view of other shoppers, with clerks and security guards seemingly powerless to prevent them.
“The Los Angeles Police Department will not tolerate these acts,” Deputy Chief Blake Chow told reporters.
“We will not stand by idly while these acts continue.”
The city’s mayor, Karen Bass, said law enforcement agencies across Los Angeles County – home to around 10 million people – were joining forces to establish a task force aimed at stamping out the menace.
If “someone commits a crime, we’ll catch you,” she said, pledging suspects would be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law.”
The task force was announced the day after the latest retail robbery, which saw 10 people target a Gucci store and make off with US$100,000 (S$135,850) of handbags.
On Saturday dozens of people looted a Nordstrom at a tony mall in the San Fernando Valley area, making off with US$300,000 of goods.
Video of the raids quickly spreads on social media and is pounced on by conservatives who use it to buttress their narrative that America’s liberal-run cities are lawless hellholes where crime is spiraling out of control.
Robbery statistics in the area are mixed, with LAPD noting a decline in the year-to-date figure compared with last year, while the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recorded an uptick in the first six months of 2023. - AFP