In the Saturday afternoon incident, a group of around 50 looters descended upon the store with face masks and hoodies obscuring their faces, smashing display cases, overturning mannequins and displays, and dragging goods out of the store – some of them still attached to security cables.
One employee who witnessed the robbery instructed shoppers to run and hide inside a back room in case the thieves became violent. She described the sound of the store’s glass display cases being thrown onto the floor as being like gunshots.
Some of the robbers attacked security guards who were trying to deter them using bear spray. According to authorities, the group stole as much as $100,000 worth of merchandise.
They focused their attention on high-end purses, clothing and jewelry that commands a good price on the black market.
As outrageous as this incident sounds, it wasn’t the first flash mob robbery to take place in Los Angeles County over the past two weeks. In a previous incident, a mob entered an Yves Saint Laurent store in Glendale, stealing around $300,000 worth of merchandise before escaping in 20 cars from the Americana at Brand Mall. On July 31, 10 to 15 hooded individuals ransacked the Gucci store at Westfield Century City Mall and stole $100,000 worth of handbags. In other recent incidents, flash mobs robbed a fine wine store in Venice and a jewelry store in La Verne.
Another mass robbery took place just a few days after the Nordstrom attack, with a dozen people wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts ransacking displays and stealing around $100,000 worth of clothes and merchandise from a Ksubi luxury denim clothing store on South La Brea Avenue. One of the suspects confronted unarmed guards who tried to intervene, gesturing to imply he had a handgun in his pocket in an attempt to threaten the security team.
Crime has been skyrocketing in Los Angeles thanks to progressive policies reducing the threshold for making arrests and zero cash bail. Many of the criminals who carry out these types of robberies do so in the belief that they are unlikely to be held accountable for their actions, with many who are arrested being released the same day.
The mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, has called for the thieves to be held accountable, however. She stated: “Those who committed these acts and acts like it in neighboring areas must be held accountable. The Los Angeles Police Department will continue to work to not only find those responsible for this incident but to prevent these attacks on retailers from happening in the future.”
On Thursday, Bass announced a regional task force is being set up to stop this behavior and hold thieves accountable for their actions.
She acknowledged the fact that many people have been avoiding going shopping out of a fear of being caught up in a violent robbery scenario. She said: "No Angeleno should feel like it is not safe to go shopping in Los Angeles. No entrepreneur should feel like it’s not safe to open a business in Los Angeles," adding that retail theft is not a victimless crime.
The task force will include several police departments from the area, as well as the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and California Highway Patrol. There will be 22 full-time investigators assigned to the force, and a district attorney will be assigned to manage the charges for suspects who are arrested.
However, many Californians remain concerned that any charges simply won’t stick given the city’s track record. Officials have said that the parties involved will be held in jail if they are hit with retail theft charges, but those facing grand theft charges could be released on bail.
Sources for this article include: