LAPD Steps up Patrols to Combat Rise in Flash Mob Robberies in California

The Los Angeles Police Department said they would be increasing the number of officers on patrol amid a spate of flash mob robberies in and around the city and across California.

On Wednesday, the LAPD launched an investigation into two separate incidents involving flash mob thefts where large groups of suspects stormed several stores.

The first incident occurred in the 8500 block of Beverly Blvd at the Beverly Center, where several suspects grabbed merchandise without paying and ran out.

The second incident took place at Westfield Topanga & The Village shopping mall in Canoga Park where an "organized group" attempted to burglarize a Nordstrom store. During the burglary, a security officer was attacked with Bear Spray, according to the LAPD.

That same night, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore spoke to KABC about the recent spate of flash mob robberies that have take place across Southern California.

Moore said that the San Francisco Bay Area has seen "in excess of 20 or 30" flash mob-style attempted burglaries in recent days.

In response, Moore there will be more officers on patrol in the Los Angeles' shopping districts to assure the public that it is "safe."

"We're going to have added uniform patrols, they are already out in the retail market areas, into the malls to ensure the safety of everyone involved, to ensure a prosperous and happy holiday season," Moore said.

Moore also confirmed that California Highway Patrol will also be deployed in Los Angeles and elsewhere in order to try and deter any potential flash mobs from targeting more stores.

"Certainly through the holiday season, that's going to help bolster our workforce," Moore said.

"We know that when the police officers are visible in our neighborhoods, that we have safer neighborhoods, we have better interactions and we just overall are just a safer city."

Among some of the other stores which have also been targeted by flash mobs in California include the Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale stores in San Francisco's Union Square and the Southland Mall in Hayward.

A Nordstrom store was also robbed by a group of around 80 people in Walnut Creek on November 20 which police said was "clearly a planned event." A Lululemon store in San Jose also had merchandise worth more than $40,000 stolen during a smash and grab on November 21.

Law enforcement officials have suggested that organized crime gangs are behind the flash mobs and are recruiting people to steal valuable items in order to then sell them online.

"We're not talking about someone who needs money or needs food. These are people who go out and do this for high profit, and for the thrill," Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, told the Associated Press.

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LAPD officers wearing protective face masks are seen during the coronavirus pandemic on May 16, 2020 in Venice, California. The Los Angeles Police Department said they would be increasing the number of officers on patrol amid a spate of flash mob robberies. David Livingston/Getty Images