By Julie McCaffrey
LOS ANGELES, CA — Roughly 200 organized retail theft cases have been filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney office in the year 2023, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.
The cases involve both juvenile and adult defendants, and the majority of the cases involve multiple accused. The cases were filed under PC § 490.4, which makes it a felony for an organized group to steal goods from a merchant with the intent for resale.
These cases were filed with the joint efforts of regional law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s office, collaborating to prosecute these crimes in the Organized Retail Theft Task Force.
When announcing the filing of the cases, District Attorney George Gascón stated, “Organized retail theft is not a victimless crime, it harms our community’s sense of security while shopping at these retailers, and the ability for local businesses to succeed.
“When we saw a rise in organized retail theft crimes, I committed to holding these individuals accountable. Through my partnership with the Organized Retail Theft Task Force, we have been able to track down many of the offenders and bring them to justice.
He continued, “We want businesses to succeed and for Angelenos to feel safe while they’re out in public. Filing these cases is just the beginning of my office’s work toward deterring these types of crimes in order to make Los Angeles County a safer place.”
LAPD Chief Michel Moore added, “Organized retail theft stole the feeling of safety and security from Angelino’s and business owners alike last year. This regional organized retail theft task force has restored much of this, although there is work still to be done.
“I am proud of the hard work and dedication to public safety of those not only from the Los Angeles Police Department, but our partnering agencies as well. As public servants, we cannot work in silos; we cannot work alone. Public safety belongs to all of us.”
According to the office, convicted individuals can face sentences ranging from probation to state prison. Charges they face can include grand theft, robbery, second-degree robbery, organized retail theft, conspiracy and receiving stolen property.
The DA said dozens of stores have been involved in these cases, and include CVS, Sephora, Target, Kevin Jewelers, and Nordstrom, among others.
The Organized Retail Theft Task Force and the District Attorney’s Office have worked to recover millions of dollars in stolen goods, according to the DA, all of which have been returned to retailers.
The District Attorney listed several amounts that have been returned to businesses, such as $188,000 to Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, $250,000 to Kevin Jewelers, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to Target and CVS.
Blanca Gonzalez, senior vice president and general manager of Warehouse Shoe Sale, one of the many affected businesses, stated, “WSS acknowledges and supports the vital efforts of the Organized Retail Theft Task Force and the District Attorney’s Office in combating organized retail theft, which detrimentally affects neighborhood security and local businesses. We remain committed to collaborating with law enforcement to deter and prosecute these crimes.”
“The Sheriff’s Organized Retail Crimes Task Force in collaboration with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and our partner law enforcement agencies are continuing to work tirelessly to tackle these brazen smash-and-grabs that are having a significant impact on our business communities,” said LASD Major Crimes Bureau Acting Captain Rob Peacock.
He continued, “Since inception of our task force, we have arrested 438 suspects related to retail theft and 309 cases have been successfully filed. We are not only focused on the individuals responsible for the thefts, but those that are in the criminal chain—the getaway drivers, those that harbor them, and those that sell the stolen merchandise. These individuals need to understand that there will be consequences—we will use all our resources to identify, pursue, and arrest these suspects.”