Los Angeles Mayor Organizes Task Force to Crack Down on Flash-Mob Retail Burglaries

Los Angeles Mayor Organizes Task Force to Crack Down on Flash-Mob Retail Burglaries

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass during a news conference in Los Angeles on Aug. 17, 2023. (Mayor Karen Bass via Facebook/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

8/17/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

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Los Angeles-area law enforcement and city officials are ramping up efforts to combat the spike in flash-mob burglaries that have struck several stores around the region in the past few weeks.
Mayor Karen Bass announced the formation of an Organized Retail Crime Task Force Aug. 17, calling the rash of thefts “unacceptable” during a news conference.
“What we’ve seen over just the past week in the City of Los Angeles and in surrounding regions is unacceptable,” Ms. Bass said in a news release. “These are not victimless crimes – especially in the case where Angelenos were attacked – through force or fear – as they did their jobs or ran errands.”
Los Angeles and Glendale police departments, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, will join several other law enforcement agencies in the task force, which is expected to investigate the slate of recent retail crimes.

Escalating Crime Spree

The formation of the dedicated regional investigative team comes after several high-profile retail crimes targeted high-end stores in the area.
One suspect was arrested Aug. 17 by Glendale police in connection to a flash-mob burglary on Aug. 8 at the Yves Saint Laurent store in the city.
Ivan Isaac Ramirez, 23, was arrested and booked on several charges including organized retail theft, burglary, grand theft, and conspiracy.
Glendale police are also looking for a second suspect, 21-year-old Brianna Jimenez of Los Angeles. Detectives have obtained a warrant for her arrest, according to a press release issued by the department.
The burglary drew national attention last week as a video of it spread quickly on social media. During the theft, at least 30 suspects flooded the store just before 5 p.m., stealing clothing and other merchandise before fleeing on foot and in several cars. The estimated loss was about $400,000, according to Glendale police.
Four days later, a similar burglary at the Nordstrom department store at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, resulted in the store’s loss of about $300,000.
Nordstrom store at the Westfield Topanga Mall in the Canoga Park neighborhood in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 2023. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Nordstrom store at the Westfield Topanga Mall in the Canoga Park neighborhood in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 2023. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

The LAPD estimated about 30 to 50 people with masks swarmed the department store, stealing handbags and other easy-to-sell items before fleeing in cars. A store security guard was attacked with bear spray during the event that lasted about two minutes, according to police.
On Tuesday, a group of thieves also ransacked the Ksubi luxury retail store on South La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles at about 7 p.m.
According to the LAPD, 10 to 12 suspects wearing hooded sweatshirts and masks entered the luxury clothing store just before it closed and stole $100,000 worth of clothing and merchandise.
The thieves fled in multiple cars, police said in a press release.
Two security guards at the store were unable to stop the thieves. One suspect reportedly hinted he had a handgun in his pocket to keep the guards away, according to media reports.
The LAPD is also asking for the public’s help in identifying suspects connected to a string of six taco stand robberies Wednesday that occurred between 9:40 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. The suspects were armed and targeted taco vendors at several locations in Hollywood, Rampart, and the northeast and central regions of the city, according to a press release.
Police described the suspects as two to four black males, between their mid-20s and mid-30s, dressed in dark clothing.
During each robbery, the males reportedly approached the victims, showed them a handgun, and demanded money. They escaped the scene in a white sedan, police reported.
Flash-mob retail theft has also struck businesses in Orange County. Law enforcement was searching for suspects in a smash-and-grab burglary of the Gucci store in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa that occurred at about 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, according to Costa Mesa Police Department Sgt. Jose Morales.
About five to 10 suspects wearing hoodies and masks entered the store and stole an estimated $100,000 in handbags, he said.
“Retail theft not only affects businesses financially but also has a broader impact on the overall well-being of our community,” LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said in a statement.
Other departments to join the task force include the California Highway Patrol, the Beverly Hills and Santa Monica police departments, the U.S. Marshals Apprehension Task Force, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Apprehension Task Force.
The retail task force will also partner with prosecutors from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, and the California Attorney General’s Office.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

Author

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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