The newest luxury mall in Los Angeles is being attacked by thieves
Angels A group of thieves smashed windows at a department store in a luxury Los Angeles mall, leading to a police pursuit just days after they targeted high-end stores across the San Francisco Bay Area.
The recent incident targeted a national trend of crime-breaking and takeover of Nordstrom’s store in The Grove, retail and entertainment complex. It came as the country’s largest consumer electronics chain said an increase in organized theft had hit its bottom line.
Workers covered a large broken window at Nordstrom with black plywood on Tuesday morning as security guards and shoppers alike walked in and out of the store. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michael Moore said the agency will boost its visual patrols around upscale stores across the city from Tuesday night through Thanksgiving and Black Weekend.
Moore said crimes like this “have a deeper impact on the sense of safety and security than just losing dollars for merchandise.”
Moore said the thieves hit around 10:40 p.m. on Monday, using a sledgehammer and an e-bike to break a window glass. About 20 people were involved in the smash-and-grab robbery, stealing $5,000 worth of merchandise and leaving nearly $15,000 in damages to the store when they fled.
Officers chased an SUV involved in the crime, and the chase ended with the arrest of three people—including a juvenile. Officers found Nordstrom merchandise in the SUV, as well as items that appeared to have been stolen during a CVS burglary earlier in the day.
The Grove incident came on the heels of a weekend of similar brazen robberies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Beverly Hills as groups of people, some with crowbars and hammers, looted high-end stores and stole jewelry, sunglasses, suitcases, clothing and other merchandise before fleeing. Cars waiting.
The thefts are believed to be part of sophisticated criminal networks that mainly recruit young people to steal goods in stores across the country and then sell them in online markets. Experts and law enforcement officials say thefts are on the rise as the holiday shopping season begins.
The National Retail Federation said a recent survey found that stores are seeing an increase in organized thefts and that perpetrators are becoming more aggressive.
Electronics chain Best Buy on Tuesday cited organized theft as one of the reasons for its lower gross profit margin in the third quarter.
“This is a real problem that hurts and scares real people,” Best Buy CEO Corey Barry told analysts during a conference call on Tuesday.
Barry told reporters during a separate call that the company is seeing an increase in organized theft across the country, but especially in San Francisco. She said the company employs security guards and works with its vendors on innovative ways to display products.
However, loss prevention agents and security guards are generally trained not to deal with thieves, said David Levenberg, a shopping mall and store security expert. They are not trained or equipped to pursue or subdue suspects, and the potential for violence is extremely high; Instead, they are supposed to “watch and report”.
“The value of the goods is not equal to the injury or death of a person,” he said.
Workplace security expert Hector Alvarez said retailers need to think about how they manage their customers during a smash-and-grab theft. He said stores are obligated to keep shoppers safe during these events, as if there were a fire.
He said clients should not interfere or confront thieves, and focus on being a good witness for law enforcement.
While such brazen crimes are still relatively rare, “going shopping has become dangerous in some cases,” said Alvarez, president of California-based Alvarez Associates LLC.
There were no reports that shoppers were injured in the recent incidents.
Ben Duggan, president of the Law Enforcement and Retail Alliance, said flash mobs are typically organized by local residents who recruit and dispatch their crews to steal specific goods demanded by criminal organizations across the United States.
Those who do the theft get paid between $500 and $1,000 to take as much as possible and return it to regulators who ship it to other parts of the country.
“The crew chiefs organize them. They’ll give him the levers, and in some cases rent them cars, or provide them with escape routes or a list of products to actually go out and steal. It looks very messy, but it’s actually very well organized,” said Duggan.
We are not talking about someone who needs money or who needs food. These are the people who go out and do this for a high profit and for the thrill.”
In some cases, Levenberg said, the thieves may be copycats rather than people working with organized networks. He said the thieves might be thinking, “Did you see what happened in San Francisco? Let’s go to The Grove and do it.”
And while smash-and-grab robberies happen across the country, Leifenberg said cities with progressive prosecutors — like Los Angeles and San Francisco — are particularly hard hit because the penalties for perpetrators aren’t as severe as in other cities.
“The consequences are small, and the profits are big,” said Levenberg, founder of the Florida-based Center for Security Services.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that his office met with retailers over the weekend who requested more police patrols.
He said increased enforcement would begin immediately “in and around the highly trafficked areas that come the Black Friday holiday season in malls.”
Duggan said retailers lose about $65 billion each year to organized theft, the bulk of which is stolen by professional thieves.
Police said last week 14 suspects went to a Louis Vuitton store in Oak Brook, a suburb of Chicago, pulled large plastic bags from their coats and filled them with clothes and other items, and stole more than $120,000 in merchandise.
Associated Press writers Stephanie Dazio and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles and Anne de Inocenzio in New York contributed to this report.
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