Smash-and-Grab Gangs Loot Stores
“This is not shoplifting. This is not petty theft,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta told NPR Dec. 20. “This is organized criminal activity where multiple individuals, up to 80 at times, are acting in concert to steal the goods.”
In the last two months of 2021, high-end stores like Nordstrom and Louis Vuitton in and around Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento were invaded by gangs in what could best be described as hit-and-run looting. Millions of dollars worth of expensive luxury goods were ripped off. The stolen merchandise is sold through online e-commerce sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
The smash-and-grab gangs attack so fast and in such overwhelming numbers that store security can't stop them. By the time law enforcement arrives in force, the thieves are long gone. Security camera footage isn't of much help in identifying the robbers because they were wearing masks and hoodie sweatshirts.
Suspects Arrested, More to Follow
In late November, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore reported about 20 to 30 flash-mob-style robberies had occurred. On Jan. 7, in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles, five known street gang members were arrested on suspicion of participation in jewelry store robberies.
Three suspects were arrested on Nov. 27 after 80 people ransacked a Nordstrom store in Walnut Creek, east of San Francisco. “There was a mob of people,” a bystander said. “The police were flying in. It was like a scene out of a movie. It was insane. It was a scary scene for a moment.”
Bloomingdale's, Walgreens, and a cannabis dispensary were among the businesses hit in San Francisco. Police Chief Bill Scott reported some looters were caught in the act, and he promised more arrests.
Law enforcement is now monitoring social media to find out where the gangs might strike next. Meanwhile, both uniformed and undercover police and store security personnel are maintaining a strong presence in vulnerable retail districts.
District attorneys up and down the state will be “throwing the book” at smash-and-grab defendants. An experienced criminal defense attorney can throw it back. If you or someone you know has been arrested for any crime, the Sigal Law Group is here to help. Call 818-325-0570 for a free consultation.