Culture

LA luxury mall latest to be hit by smash-and-grab thieves


By Eugene Garcia and Olga R. Rodriguez | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A group of thieves smashed windows at a department store at a luxury mall in Los Angeles, triggering a police pursuit just days after high-end stores throughout the San Francisco Bay Area were targeted.

The latest incident in a national trend of smash-and-grab crimes targeted a Nordstrom store at The Grove retail and entertainment complex. It came as the country’s largest consumer electronics chain said that an increase in organized theft was taking a toll on its bottom line.

Workers covered a large broken window at the Nordstrom with black plywood on Tuesday morning as security guards came in and out of the store. Passersby were allowed inside the retailer ahead of the upcoming Black Friday shopping weekend.

The thieves struck around 10:40 p.m. Monday, said Officer Drake Madison, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman. Officers pursued an SUV involved in the crime and the chase ended in South Los Angeles with three people taken into custody, he said. The number of people involved in the crime was not known, Madison said.

The Grove incident followed a weekend of similar smash-and-grab thefts in the San Francisco Bay Area and Beverly Hills.

Groups of thieves, some carrying crowbars and hammers, smashed glass cases and window displays and ransacked high-end stores in brazen organized theft throughout the Bay Area, stealing jewelry, sunglasses, suitcases and other merchandise before fleeing in waiting cars.

The thefts are believed to be part of sophisticated criminal networks that recruit mainly young people to steal merchandise in stores throughout the country and then sell it in online marketplaces. Experts and law enforcement officials say the thefts are ratcheting up as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

The National Retail Federation said a recent survey found stores are seeing an increase in organized thefts and perpetrators being more aggressive.

The electronics chain Best Buy on Tuesday cited organized theft as one of the reasons for a decline in gross profit margin in the third quarter.

“We are definitely seeing more and more particularly organized retail crime and incidents of shrink in our locations,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry told analysts during a conference call Tuesday. “This is a real issue that hurts and scares real people.”

Barry told reporters during a separate call that the company is seeing organized theft increase across the country, but particularly in San Francisco. She said the company is hiring security guards and working with its vendors on creative ways to stage the product.

The weekend robberies started in San Francisco Friday around 8 p.m., when packs of people broke into stores including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale’s in the downtown area and in Union Square, a posh shopping district popular with tourists that was teeming with holiday shoppers.

Videos of the chaotic scene posted on social media by witnesses showed police officers dragging one suspect from a waiting car and people running with merchandise in their arms or dragging suitcases.

The flash mobs are usually organized by local people who recruit their …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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