First arrest made in YSL store smash-and-grab in Glendale; at least 1 other suspect at large

Friday, August 18, 2023
First arrest made in YSL store smash-and-grab in Glendale
Ivan Isaac Ramirez, a 23-year-old from Los Angeles, was arrested Thursday morning as the first person directly connected to the burglary at the Americana at Brand's Yves Saint Laurent store.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Police in Glendale announced their first arrest in a smash-and-grab burglary at a popular shopping center that was caught on video.

Ivan Isaac Ramirez, a 23-year-old from Los Angeles, was arrested Thursday morning as the first person directly connected to the burglary at the Americana at Brand's Yves Saint Laurent store.

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Ramirez was booked on several charges including organized retail theft, burglary, grand theft and conspiracy.

A second suspect, 21-year-old Brianna Jimenez of Los Angeles, is currently at large, according to police.

The flash-mob burglary unfolded on Tuesday, Aug. 8, and was caught on video. Police said at least 30 suspects flooded into the store and fled with an estimated $400,000 in merchandise.

Since then, Glendale detectives have been working with Americana security and representatives from YSL as part of its investigation.

"I assure all members of the Glendale community and the broader Los Angeles region that these brazen smash-and-grab robberies and burglaries will not be tolerated," said Glendale Police Chief Many Cid. "This marks the first arrest related to this crime and there are more arrests to come."

A representative for developer Rick Caruso, owner of the Grove and other SoCal retail centers, including The Americana at Brand, released the following statement on the arrest.

"Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the Glendale Police Department for their swift and decisive actions leading to the first arrest for the theft at Saint Laurent. The relentless efforts of the GPD showcases their professionalism and dedication to upholding the safety and integrity of our community.

At Caruso, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the security of our guests, tenants, residents and employees and our top priority is to maintain a safe and family-friendly environment at each of our properties. While this incident was deeply concerning, it strengthens our resolve to ensure that The Americana at Brand continues to be a symbol of safety, excellence and community."

New retail theft task force assembled

After facing strong criticism from residents and business owners, law enforcement agencies across Los Angeles County have teamed up to create a task force to tackle the alarming increase in smash-and-grabs.

In a press conference Thursday morning, Mayor Karen Bass announced the Organized Retail Crimes Task Force that will focus on the organized retail crimes in the county.

The task force will include detectives and investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol, Glendale Police Department, Burbank Police Department, Beverly Hills Police Department, Santa Monica Police Department, U.S. Marshals Apprehension Task Force and Federal Bureau of Investigation Task Force.

Prosecutors from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General's office will join the task force as well to ensure suspects are prosecuted to the "fullest extent of the law,'' according to Bass.

"What we've seen over just the past week in the city of Los Angeles and in the surrounding regions is unacceptable, which is why today we are here announcing action,'' Bass said. "These are not victimless crimes -- especially in the case where Angelenos were attacked -- through force or fear -- as they did their jobs or ran errands.''

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"No Angelenos should feel like it's unsafe to go shopping and no Angelenos should feel like it's unsafe to open a business in Los Angeles or Los Angeles County,'' she added.

Bass emphasized that if "someone commits a crime, we'll catch you.''

Statewide resources

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying, the "CHP will triple its resources in the Los Angeles region devoted to tackling retail crime and allocate additional investigators specifically the new regional law enforcement task force.''

Newsom said the regional retail theft task force is similar to the CHP's Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) that was established in 2019.

The state's ORCTF has recovered $30.7 million in stolen merchandise, conducted more than 1,850 investigations and led to the arrests of 1,250 individuals.

The state's 2023-24 budget includes more than $800 million in funding to support improve public safety and crack down on retail crime.

"The CHP is the proven leader in tackling organized retail theft and through this expanded partnership the agency will further assist the city in doing its job to keep Angelenos and their businesses safe,'' Newsom said in a statement.

The Southland has been subject to an increasing number of retail thefts by large groups of suspects targeting retail locations. The suspects often target specific malls with high-end merchandise, according to a statement from the LAPD.

Suspects grab a large quantity of merchandise often using tools to break glass display cases and cut security cords -- or smash-and-grabs. According to a statement from LAPD, each incident has resulted in several hundreds of thousands of dollars loss to retailers.

"Each of these acts takes away from our peace of mind or our sense of our security when we want to go out and do shopping in retail communities,'' LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said during the press conference in City Hall. "The Los Angeles Police Department will not tolerate these acts. We will not stand by idly while these acts continue.''

How will it work?

The task force will be led by the LAPD's Commercial Crimes Division and will respond in an "organized manner, day and night, and seven days a week with the full scope of investigative resources to provide evidence for successful filing and prosecutions,'' Choi said.

Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher, who is also the chief of detectives for LAPD and oversees investigations throughout the city of Los Angeles, said his partner Cmdr. Jay Mastick will oversee the day-to-day operations of the task force.

The task force will include 22 assigned full-time investigators and follow up on "any available lead.'' There will be three separate surveillance and apprehension teams working with the task force, as well.

"We're going to house this task force out of the (San Fernando) Valley, since the majority of these incidents have occurred in the San Fernando Valley in the west portion of the city of Los Angeles,'' Pitcher said.

The task force will establish a tip line and method for individuals to submit digital media with pertinent information to these crimes.

Day to day crimes

Pitcher provided details on recent smash-and-grabs that prompted law enforcement agencies to ban together and address those crimes, which include:

  • On Wednesday, a group of five to 10 thieves wearing hoodies and masks were involved in a smash-and-grab robbery of the Gucci store in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Orange County. Thieves left with a number of handbags totaling a loss of more than $100,000.
  • On Tuesday, a flash mob robbed the Ksubi store at 132 S. La Brea Ave. Suspects entered the store prior to closing and than $100,000 worth of miscellaneous items and clothing were stolen by the group of thieves.
  • On Saturday, nearly 50 thieves looted a Nordstrom at the Westfield Topanga mall in the West San Fernando Valley. Police reports estimate $300,000 worth of merchandise was stolen.
  • On July 31, about 10 to 15 people stole from a Gucci store at the Westfield Century City mall at 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. The suspects stole approximately $100,000 worth of merchandise.
  • On July 3, several suspects stole from a Bloomingdale's store at the Westfield Century City mall and stole three handbags worth $32,000.

Zero-bail policy concerns

Pitcher addressed some concerns that were brought to his attention regarding the county's Zero-Cash Bail policy. He reassured that those suspects involved in smash-and-grabs will be charged with robberies and be held in jail.

"If (the charge) does drop down to a grand theft, there are changes they may be released on bail, but we will be working with prosecutors very carefully to appropriately charge these individuals in each one of these cases to make sure that they are held to the greatest extent possible that we're allowed to do so by the law,'' Pitcher said.

L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna said these smash-and-grabs are not new, and his department has been dealing with these issues for more than a year. Luna emphasized his deputies and investigators have done their best to respond to the almost 170 organized retail thefts in the county's jurisdiction.

He also emphasized that this task force will come after everyone involved in the chain of the crime, including those who assist these smash-and-grabs crimes and purchase the stolen merchandise.

"We have a united front and we are going to respond. We are going to investigate. We're going to turn over the best case that we can to the District Attorney's office or whoever else we have to and ensure that people get held accountable,'' Luna said.

Following the mayor's press conference Thursday morning, Councilwoman Traci Park commended the new multi-agency Retail Theft Task Force.

"The rise in smash-and-grab incidents are devastating our businesses, driving up consumer costs and eroding public safety,'' Park said in a statement. "Their mandate is straightforward: Such acts will be not tolerated in Los Angeles, and criminals will be held accountable.''

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City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.