Bass announces task force targeting smash-and-grab robberies

Aug. 17, 2023 11:49 AM PT Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email
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Following a string of flash mob robberies of luxury goods stores around Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass on Thursday announced a new task force of local and federal agencies to target the crimes.

The crimes have drawn national attention after video clips showing robbers running out of stores were posted on social media.

Glendale Police Chief Manuel Cid, who joined Bass at Thursday’s news conference, said police have arrested a man suspected of being involved in the Aug. 8 robbery of a Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale. Police also identified a second suspect and are looking for the individual, Cid said.


In a separate incident, at least 30 people participated in the brazen daytime robbery of the Nordstrom at the Topanga mall on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The criminals used bear spray on a security guard, police said.

On Aug. 1, a Gucci store at the Westfield Century City Mall was also hit by a group.

“No Angeleno should feel like it’s not safe to go shopping in Los Angeles,” Bass said. “No entrepreneur should feel like it’s not safe to open a business.”

Bass advised the public to call 911 if people are seen robbing stores. She also announced a hotline for tips on apprehending the smash-and-grab robbers.

The task force will consist of the LAPD, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, and representatives from the police departments of Glendale, Burbank, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. State and federal agencies, including the FBI, will also play a role.


LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher, who oversees detectives, said the task force will use informants, cyber investigators and other tactics.

LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi told reporters that “criminals don’t distinguish between city borders and county borders and so we need this task force to effectively address this issue.”

Choi said prosecutors will be embedded in the task force, which will also target those who purchase stolen goods.

L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna said his department is aware of 170 recent organized retail thefts.

Luna said one store — believed to be the Nike store in East L.A. — had been hit several times and $83,000 in merchandise was stolen during the last six months.

He said the department has 20 pending crime cases and made 16 arrests and has three additional cases where the suspects have been identified.

Bass told reporters that she expected the flash mob trend to be an “aberration” and she likened it to other trends, such as “follow home” crimes, that police said they have tamped down on in recent years.

Overall, crime is down in 2023 in Los Angeles compared with 2022.

In the instance involving the Yves Saint Laurent store, Glendale Police Chief Cid said Isaac Ramirez, 23, of Los Angeles was taken into custody. Cid said a second suspect, Brianna Jimenez, 21, is being sought.