LA business owners frustrated over recent 'flash mob' robberies: 'Enough is enough'

Leanne Suter Image
Thursday, August 17, 2023
LA business owners frustrated over recent 'flash mob' robberies
L.A. business owners are growing frustrated over the recent surge in smash-and-grab and "flash mob" robberies.

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- The California Highway Patrol is cracking down on a growing number of "flash mob" robberies that have made national headlines.

In recent weeks, organized thefts have targeted stores across Los Angeles, including an Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana in Glendale and a Nike store in East L.A.

"Enough is enough," said Mark Werts, a store owner along La Brea Avenue.

On Tuesday, an estimated $100,000 in merchandise was stolen from a Ksubi store near Werts' business.

RELATED: Thieves steal $300K worth of merch from Americana store in Glendale

Thieves were captured on video fleeing a high-end clothing store at the Americana in Glendale after stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise.

"Nothing happens. Nothing. Zero," Werts said. "So they keep doing it."

A frustrated Werts described the recent incidents as "unbelievable" and "total chaos."

Owners along the store-lined stretch of La Brea say the thefts have become almost a daily occurrence.

RELATED: Nike store in East LA targeted by thieves weekly, LASD says

A shopper recorded two suspects stealing trash bags full of items from a Nike store in East L.A. Authorities say this particular store is targeted weekly by crooks.

The CHP announced Wednesday a renewed effort by its Organized Retail Crime Task Force.

"With ramped up law enforcement cooperation and activities across California, the CHP seeks to disrupt criminal operations of this nature across the state, sending a strong message that these illicit activities will not be tolerated," CHP said in a statement.

Meanwhile, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass and numerous law enforcement leaders Thursday are set to announce a plan to crack down on the crimes.

In addition, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced earlier in the year that $85 million would be provided annually for three years to local law enforcement to combat organized retail crime.

RELATED: Mob-style smash-and-grab robbery at Nordstrom store inside Topanga mall leaves shoppers on edge

Shocking video captured a mob-style smash-and-grab robbery at a mall in Topanga and police are now searching for up to 30 suspects involved.

"The public has an expectation to go to the public and shop with their families without experiencing lawlessness," CHP Assistant Commissioner Aniceto Ortiz said at a press conference Wednesday.

Statewide numbers show retail robberies, non-residential burglaries and shoplifting have increased since the pandemic, with 188,000 incidents, according to data reported by agencies to the California Department of Justice. But, that's roughly on par with pre-pandemic years, and below numbers from the early 2000s.

Many business owners say it's too expensive to hire armed guards and say they are left at the mercy of a criminal justice system they claim is failing to protect them.

Many are questioning the city's leadership and an alleged lack of response.

"They don't understand what's going on in their own city at all," Wertz said.