CANOGA PARK, Calif.—Police Aug. 13 continued to search for members of a mob of up to 50 masked and hoodie-wearing thieves who raided the Nordstrom at Westfield Topanga Mall, as Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass condemned the crime.
The mass shoplifting occurred just after 4 p.m. Saturday at the store at 21725 Victory Blvd., east of Topanga Canyon Blvd., according to spokesman Pedro Muniz of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
Cell phone video posted on Twitter showed male and female suspects smashing displays and grabbing clothing and bags and running from the store.
There were 30 to 50 people involved, Mr. Muniz said.
The mall was not evacuated, he added. An ambulance was summoned to the store to treat one man who was sprayed with bear spray.
NBC4 reported that police estimated the value of the stolen items at between $60,000 and $100,000.
“What happened today at the Nordstrom in the Topanga Mall is absolutely unacceptable,” Ms. Bass said. “Those who committed these acts and acts like it in neighboring areas must be held accountable. The Los Angeles Police Department will continue to work to not only find those responsible for this incident but to prevent these attacks on retailers from happening in the future.”
The heist was similar to what Glendale police described as a “flash mob” that struck the Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale at about 4:50 p.m. Aug. 8.
“The suspects stole clothing and other merchandise before fleeing on foot and leaving the location in numerous vehicles,” Glendale Police Department Sgt. Victor Jackson said. “While still under investigation, the estimated loss is approximately $300,000.
“These ‘flash mob’ burglaries involve a large, coordinated group of individuals simultaneously rushing into the store, overwhelming staff and taking it over,” Mr. Jackson added. “The suspects grab as much merchandise as possible before fleeing in multiple vehicles.”
That crime was also captured on video, which was widely circulated.
Asked about shoplifting in general and the sense of many in the community that criminals are more emboldened in recent years, LAPD Chief Michel Moore told ABC7 that California voters have essentially weakened law enforcement by passing more lenient laws.
“The criminal justice system looks at these types of crimes [shoplifting], and it’s really based on what California—the population—have voted into law,” Mr. Moore told the station’s Marc Brown.
“[It] has really decriminalized and moved down consequences of these types of repeated offenders, and the consequences of that—whether it be through zero bail, or now these are misdemeanor offenses in lieu of felony offences, and when they do go to court, probation is ordered but probation has been weakened in the sense of actual court community oversight; violations of those conditions then result in the person being released immediately back into the field, and so the concept and the cynicism of ’this is a revolving door' has instances of accuracy.”
Mr. Moore also said the policy that prohibits the Los Angeles Police Department from requiring cash bail for people arrested for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses creates an unequal playing field to the detriment of the city.
“Somebody committing a theft or a burglary, for instance, in Glendale, is going to have a bail. You commit that same burglary in Los Angeles and it’s zero bail,” Moore said. “That tells the criminal element, ‘Where do you commit your burglaries?’ Because the criminal element is looking at bail and they’re looking at being in custody—those are deterrents.”