By Yenah Lee & Holly Werris
LOS ANGELES, CA — Within the past month, Los Angeles County has experienced a wave of flash mob robberies in multiple franchises including Nordstrom, Yves Saint Lauren and Nike.
According to an editorial in the Los Angeles Times, the crimes not only cost retailers thousands of dollars in lost revenue, but “harm more than the shoppers and the employees present during the heists who were put in fear of violence from the swarms of rampaging hooded criminals.”
The editorial adds, “These crimes degrade the quality of all our lives — by casting a cloud of hesitancy, then discomfort, then dread over shopping areas and public spaces. People begin to think twice before entering a mall or a store. The next step is to stay away entirely and leave formerly public places to only those who are willing to take their chances and those who have no choice.”
But the editorial calls that claim “utter nonsense — perhaps born of frustration, deep ignorance or political malice — that some law enforcement leaders and elected officials continue to spout about the supposed underlying reasons for these crimes.
“They claim these robberies are the result of criminal justice reform. All that lenience. All those liberals. Proposition 47, which reduced some low-level property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. $0 bail. Decriminalization.”
The Times adds all of that is “Ridiculous. These robberies are organized retail thefts and criminal conspiracies, some of them aggravated assaults and all of them felonies. The value of goods stolen is well above the misdemeanor threshold. Proposition 47 has nothing to do with them.
“That ballot measure set the dividing line between grand theft (a felony) and petty theft (a misdemeanor) at $950. Most other states’ limits for felonies are higher, from $1,000 to as high as $2,500. That makes California one of the nation’s toughest states on property crimes, notwithstanding absurd and dishonest claims to the contrary.”
The LA Times editorial said there also isn’t “any evidence of anyone arrested for a smash-and-grab being released without bail and repeatedly committing the same crimes. Nor has California ‘decriminalized’ any crime other than marijuana possession. Nor have police in this state been ‘defunded.’ Nor have prosecutors been blocked or discouraged from prosecuting smash-and-grab robbers.”
The hard-hitting editorial board piece added, “Californians, to their credit, are a savvy bunch who have repeatedly rejected falsehoods about criminal justice reform thrown at them by some fact-challenged prosecutors, candidates and law enforcement leaders.
“But the nonsense and the fear-mongering from leaders keep coming, and it is in its own way as corrosive to a free and open society as brazen retail thefts. Californians should be able to expect their police and elected officials to tell them the truth, and demonstrate that they have an accurate perception of the crimes they are charged with preventing and solving.”
The Times noted the periodic waves of robberies are instead the result of organized crime, both foreign and domestic. These waves, such as the 2021 California holiday robberies ended through the identification and arrest of the perpetrators.
The rise, the editorial stressed, of “smash-and-grab” robberies has resulted in the LAPD increasing patrols to protect both shoppers and store employees. LAPD’s Deputy Chief said there will be 22 investigators working in this investigation to identify and arrest individuals involved. The police are also anticipated to examine social media and the dark web in connection to the robberies, as well as collaborating with other jurisdictions.
To support the Los Angeles community, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the California Highway Patrol (CHP) would triple its resources and partner with the LAPD.
The governor said CHP is a “proven leader in tackling organized retail theft,” and the collaboration with both departments “will further assist the city in doing its job to keep Angelenos and their businesses safe.”