17 Los Angeles gangs are targeting and robbing wealthy people, police say

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – At least 17 Los Angeles street gangs are behind a sudden surge in a brazen robbery in which robbers follow people home from upscale locations and walk away with expensive jewelry or other merchandise, police officials said Tuesday.

The gangs, based mostly in south Los Angeles, independently committed robberies and sometimes used viewers to target people wearing luxury watches or driving expensive cars, said Captain Jonathan Tift, who heads the LAPD task force “home robbery,” he told city police. . A commission.

Michael Moore, LAPD commander, said they did not believe the robbery was spontaneous.

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“We believe that many times, these criminals check places, set people up in advance, may even have connections with parking services or store employees,” Moore said.

Robberies occurred in the San Fernando Valley, on the west side and downtown Los Angeles.

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“No area is unique or protected from this occurrence,” Moore said, pleading with businesses to help police eradicate the violent robbers.

Moore said people who think of wearing expensive watches and jewelry should be “aware” of the plethora of “come home” robberies.

“It’s been going on for six months now, it’s been a year,” Moore said. “And we are concerned that the temperament of the criminals involved has not been changed by the enforcement efforts made to date.”

He advised people to be aware of their surroundings, go in pairs and recognize that no piece of jewelry or watch is “worth your life”.

“The issue of struggle or struggle to keep a watch or piece of jewelry is not worth it,” Moore said. “We saw a murder related to ‘home surveillance’, ‘surveillance’ of these robbers. In fact, we saw two. And so we know that the tendency to violence always exists.”

Despite a number of arrests over the past few months, the threat of such violent robberies has continued, he said, including two recent examples.

No fewer than five charges of people followed some targets home, wanted to steal watches, bags or cars before they had much chance of resisting, said Tift, the police captain.

In the October 2020 case, a man was arrested this month on charges of robbing two watches valued at an estimated $ 600,000. The victim left a design school and returned to his business when he noticed a white Maserati following him.

When the victim arrived at his business, the Maserati drove alongside him and three suspects went out and chased the victim, pushing him to the ground and robbing him. One of the suspects aimed a gun at the victim’s head, police said, and demanded that the man hand over his watch.

“We have seen countless people who have been traumatized as a result of a gun being aimed at them,” Tift said. “Many others are dealing with the trauma and injuries as a result of tackling, kicking, hitting, punching and whipping a gun to the head.”

Last year, the police recorded 165 such arrests and 56 so far this year. Five occurred in the previous two days. 13 people were shot, two to death. Fifty robberies occurred in the Hollywood division of the LAPD and nearly many of them in the Wilshire division, along with many in the area that includes the downtown jewelry district.

Such attacks were “almost inaudible” before last year, Tift said.

“In my 34 years at the LAPD, I have never seen this kind of criminal behavior” in such large and coordinated groups, Tift said.

At a stop on Monday, robbers smashed a window of a car that stopped at a traffic light and hit the driver with the vehicle as she tried to flee, a video released by police showed. The thieves went out and snatched the woman’s watch, which she threw into the street.

The task force made several dozen arrests for robbery, gun crimes and attempted murder, along with four arrests on suspicion of murder, Tift said.

Hamid Khan, a member of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that the LAPD is sensational about crime in the city, and suggested that police take crime trends out of proportion in an effort to maintain a suffocating grip on the city budget. .

“The LAPD must constantly give itself legitimacy, constantly make itself useful to the community, by raising this doubt of raging people,” Khan told the newspaper.

The AP news agency contributed to the report.

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