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Valley community among those affected by Los Angeles area smash-and-grabs

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Authorities announced charges of burglary for 14 suspects involved with the crimes.

By Matthew Royer, Political News Editor

Nordstroms, located at Westfield Topanga, fell victim to a smash-and-grab style robbery on Wednesday, November 24. A group of suspects fled the area with an estimated $25,000 worth of merchandise. (Ava Rosate/The Valley Star)

The beginning of the holiday season led to a rise in smash-and-grab robberies across the greater Los Angeles area, including here in the San Fernando Valley.

After multiple incidents at high-end stores in the city, on Nov. 24, Westfield Topanga in Woodland Hills was subject to a barrage of individuals targeting its Nordstrom department store. Up to 20 suspects made out with $5,000 of stolen goods and attacked a security guard before fleeing the scene. While the incident in the Valley was isolated to just one store, the robbery presented a pattern of smash-and-grabs in Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, these events led the LAPD to go on “tactical alert,” a system of higher surveillance for potential targets. On Thursday, police Chief Michael Moore and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced charges for 14 suspects connected with the robberies.

Garcetti, in particular, used the opportunity to criticize the city’s no-bail system, which would currently release the suspects back into the community.

“We need the help of our criminal justice system, of our judges, of our jailers,” said Garcetti in a press conference. “There are people who need to be behind bars.”

From Nov. 18 to Nov. 28, up to $338,000 worth of merchandise was stolen from stores in Los Angeles, while suspects also racked up to $40,000 in property damage at locations across the city, according to the BBC. The Grove shopping complex in Beverly Grove was struck during this period as assailants smashed the glass at their flagship Nordstrom location, stealing thousands of dollars worth of products before leaving.

While the influx of robberies put LAPD on “tactical alert,” Garcetti took the opportunity in the press conference to inform citizens that crime in Los Angeles is at an all-time low. According to the LA Almanac, the crime rate regarding robberies has been steadily declining for the past 20 years, taking a significant dip in the last five to 15,221 robberies in 2020 from 20,147 in 2016.

After the questioning from Garcetti and Moore of the city’s system for processing suspects, District Attorney George Gascón’s office released a statement on the robberies.

"Our office has been collaborating with multiple law enforcement agencies and once all the evidence has been gathered, we will review the cases to determine what criminal charges should be filed," said Alex Bastian, special advisor to Gascón, according to the Associated Press. “These brazen acts hurt all of us: retailers, employees and customers alike.”

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