Police in Los Angeles and other cities throughout the country spent much of the holiday weekend searching for suspects in a series of ‘flash mob’ robberies that occurred on Friday, part of a growing trend in the United States in which dozens of thieves storm a store, raid the shelves and run.
The trend has also been referred to as ‘smash-and-grab’ by authorities.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department both reported at least two similar robberies on Saturday. On Friday alone, local television station KCAL-TV reported six smash-and-grab robberies on the city’s west side.
According to the sheriff’s office, a gang of eight males entered a Home Depot outlet at a shopping mall in Lakewood, south of downtown Los Angeles, proceeded straight to the tool aisle, and seized a bundle of hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars worth around $400 before fleeing.
The Home Depot theft on Friday night, involved up to 20 individuals who arrived in as many as ten automobiles and donned ski masks before looting the tool aisle.
Beverly Hills police detained four suspects in the robbery on Saturday, the Los Angeles City News Service reported.
According to LAPD, a group of ten or more males stormed a business in the city’s Fairfax neighbourhood on Friday afternoon and began stealing products without paying for it, shoving staff out of the way before fleeing the scene.
Police are looking into any links between that event and a rash of other robberies and retail thefts that occurred on Friday and earlier in the week, including two smash-and-grabs reported on Wednesday.
The LAPD put its officers on a citywide tactical alert on Friday afternoon due to a surge of retail crime.
On Friday, mass thefts were reported at two Best Buy electronics stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, one of which involved up to 30 perpetrators.