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Hollywood and Highland crime spree caught on surveillance cameras

July 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police were out in force on Hollywood Boulevard Wednesday night, hoping to reassure visitors after a robbery and vandalism spree by roving bands of young people.

A dozen people were arrested Tuesday night in connection to the crime spree that occurred at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Witnesses said the popular tourist hub was the scene of a chaotic and sometimes violent scene.

"All of a sudden I heard this big commotion outside like people were screaming and yelling," said witness Neil Barnett.

Approximately 30 to 40 teens and young adults went on a rampage, robbing people and businesses as well as vandalizing some stores.

At a morning news conference, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, who represents the 13th District, emphasized that Hollywood is safe.

"It's never been safer in a generation, that we're open for business, that we will not tolerate the kind of behavior that you all witnessed last night," said O'Farrell, who said he will join Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck in spending Wednesday evening in Hollywood "because it's one of the greatest places in the city of Los Angeles."

Authorities said the suspects used bodily force to swipe cellphones, purses and jewelry from pedestrians just walking in the area. Some stores were targeted, as the suspects stole cash and merchandise.

The 12 arrested individuals were males and females. LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said 11 of them are juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17, and one is an 18-year-old adult from Los Angeles.

Smith said as the probe continues, investigators will release surveillance photos of those who were not captured Tuesday night and are still at large.

Police say the suspects were not protesting the George Zimmerman verdict, but they were taking advantage of the civil unrest that has come in its wake.

"What we're thinking is these youngsters took advantage of our redeployment of officers down to the Crenshaw district last night, and decided this would be a good night to come up to Hollywood and act a little crazy," said Smith.

Authorities say there were no major injuries, but some individuals were punched in the face. No victims required hospitalization. Smith said some of the stolen property has been returned, and authorities are working to recover the rest.

The LAPD says it is monitoring talk on social media about another possible flash mob rampage in the coming days.

Just last month in the area of Hollywood and Highland, a young woman was stabbed to death. Three homeless men have been charged in her killing.

Last month, Mayor Garcetti said he would increase police presence permanently in the area as a result of the stabbing death.

Also in May, a transgendered individual was attacked on Hollywood Boulevard, eight blocks away from Highland Avenue.


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