South LA gangs striking wealthy neighborhoods, police say

Police have dubbed the crimes "follow-home robberies" and say their frequency has skyrocketed over the past two years.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- South Los Angeles gangs are sending teams of its members out into other parts of the city to find people wearing expensive jewelry or driving expensive cars then robbing them at gunpoint, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police have dubbed the crimes "follow-home robberies" and say their frequency has skyrocketed over the past two years, sparking the department to launch a Follow Home Robbery Task Force.

"They are larger groups," said LAPD Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who is leading the task force. "Individuals that are looking out for people wearing expensive, high-end jewelry and targeting them. They are coordinated attacks on unsuspecting citizens, and they are taking their property and vehicles."

Tippet said in 2021, 40 follow-home robbery cases had been reported by July. By the end of the year, the number totaled 164. So far in 2022, 55 of the robbery cases have been reported, putting the city on pace to break last year's record.

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The phenomenon, which police say armed suspects follow victims from restaurants and shopping areas to rob them, was "almost unheard of'' before last year, according to police.

Video of one robbery shows a woman being chased down a street by men on foot and in a car, which eventually rammed her, sending her flying.

The woman can be seen throwing a watch toward her assailants, who grab it and drive off.

"Many of these attacks started off violently and without any provocation or opportunity by the victims to even comply willingly," said Tippet.

Tippet said the crews behind the heists have been connected to at least 17 different street gangs in South L.A.

Four of the suspects already arrested have been charged with murder related to other cases and six have been charged with attempted murder.

But investigators said they're frustrated because more than half of the suspects they've caught have been quickly released. At least seven have been re-arrested for the same kind of robberies.

Tippet said it's time, the courts recognize the dangers in releasing them.

"Hold them there or set the bail higher and more appropriate to the types of charges that they're being charged with, including violent attacks and using guns, because each one of these cases are armed, violent robberies," Tippet told Eyewitness News. "We have already had one death involved in these cases, and we certainly don't want to see another one."

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