Los Angeles Times Via YahooNews
Smash-and-grab robbery rings organize on social media, Bonta says
It looked like chaos when groups of young people dashed from cars into the Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square and ran off with luxury purses, bags, and designer wear. A few days later, about 80 people stormed through a Walnut Creek mall, stealing expensive items before fleeing. At L.A.’s Grove shopping mall not long after, a smaller group used sledgehammers on a Nordstrom. But California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said the group crimes are rooted in a kind of organized crime. Those dashing into the stores are mostly foot soldiers for others calling the shots from a safe distance.
The state’s top prosecutor said they are giving directions to the people hitting businesses by wielding social media, text and message groups to guide them on the most valuable goods to snatch. The stolen goods are eventually sold for a considerable profit, he said. “You know, the crime we are seeing is organized crime, and it is going to take an organized strategy to put a stop to it,” Bonta said of smash-and-grab crimes and a broader array of retail thefts that have ramped up in California stores. “
These are these folks that have put thought into it, have a strategy, have a plan, focused on certain places at certain times and communicate and work in concert.” His comments come as police have stepped up patrols to combat the so-called take-over robberies, which hit the state earlier this month. In downtown L.A., Bonta hosted a meeting Tuesday of big-box retailers, online marketplaces, and law enforcement to discuss the state of organized retail theft in California and develop strategies for combating it.
Representatives from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, CVS, Gap, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force, the California State Sheriffs’ Assn., and the California Police Chiefs Assn. attended the meeting.