Law enforcement authorities are taking proactive steps to prevent crime during the holidays and are increasing patrols to deter additional smash-and-grab robberies and burglaries after multiple incidents occurred during the past week.
The Los Angeles Police Department was placed on tactical alert from 8 p.m. on Nov. 26 through 2 a.m. the following morning in response to a series of incidents in different parts of the city on Black Friday, LAPD spokesman Drake Madison said. Multiple incidents involving what the LAPD called flash mobs were reported. A large group of suspects entered stores in the Beverly Center in the 8500 block of Beverly Boulevard on Nov. 26 and stole merchandise before running out, and the same type of robbery also occurred at the Westfield Topanga and The Village, Madison said. Three robberies were also reported at other locations in the Wilshire Division on Nov. 26 in the 8400 block of Melrose Place, 7800 block of Melrose Avenue and 100 block of South La Brea Avenue.
Police in Beverly Hills may have prevented a smash-and-grab burglary in the Rodeo Drive shopping district when they arrested four men at approximately 2:20 a.m. on Nov. 27 in the 400 block of North Rexford Drive. Beverly Hills Police Department Lt. Giovanni Trejo said a citizen notified police about a group of six suspicious vehicles driving through the district. BHPD officers arrived and pulled over two of the vehicles. One matched the description of a car wanted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly being used in a flash mob-style robbery the previous evening at a Home Depot store in Lakewood.
Police allegedly found new tools that are believed to have been stolen from the Home Depot and notified the sheriff’s department. Authorities in Beverly Hills detained the suspects until authorities from the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station arrived and took the men into custody.
Trejo stressed that it’s speculation because no incidents occurred, but police believe the group may have been planning to break into stores in Beverly Hills. The suspects were all dressed in dark clothing. Two similar incidents occurred overnight on Nov. 20-21 in which suspects smashed windows at the Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenues stores in Beverly Hills, but were unable to get inside, Trejo added.
“It’s unusual to see a group of vehicles driving up and down Rodeo Drive in the middle of the night, and add to that all the other criminal activity that’s been reported,” Trejo said. “All of that has made us extra sensitive to anything that seems out of place. We detained and arrested them based on information we received from the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department identified the suspects as Bronz Jackson, 20, Shawn Jones, 19, and Daniel DeHughes, 19, all residents of Los Angeles, and Everett Lestorkindle, 22, of Hawthorne. Trejo said Beverly Hills’ network of security cameras may have captured footage of the other vehicles involved, and police are reviewing video and collaborating with the sheriff’s department to identify other suspects.
Trejo added that additional bike patrols, foot beats and vehicle patrols have been deployed in the city’s business districts for the holidays, as well as private security officers, which have been used by the city since last summer. He said law enforcement deployments are being assessed on a daily basis and will be increased if needed.
“We want people to know if they see something, give us a call. Any tip will be meticulously investigated,” Trejo said. “The message is, if you commit crimes in Beverly Hills, we will use every resource available to the police department to find you, and will arrest anyone responsible.”
West Hollywood authorities did not report any smash-and-grab robberies during the past week. Lt. Bill Moulder, of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, said the department is conducting extra patrols and will maintain a high-visibility during the holidays.
“Our Entertainment Policing Team and COPPS Team have met with businesses to discuss security measures,” Moulder said. “The EPT Team and COPPS Team have been doing saturation patrols of possible target areas. We have also encouraged businesses to call the sheriff’s station if they see anything suspicious. We will do everything we can to keep our community safe.”
Madison said the LAPD is continuing investigations into the many recent smash-and-grab robberies and burglaries, including the incidents on Nov. 26 and another burglary on Nov. 22 at the Nordstrom department store at The Grove. A group of suspects smashed a window at the store near Third Street and The Grove Drive and stole merchandise before fleeing. Police pursued one of the vehicles allegedly involved and arrested three men.
A spokeswoman for The Grove said additional security measures are being taken including the overnight use of custom-fabricated protective barriers at all entrances and a heightened security presence with additional guards and off-duty law enforcement personnel. Ballistic film has been installed to strengthen all storefront windows, and state-of-the-art closed circuit television and alarm systems have been installed throughout the property.
Anyone with information about the incidents in the Wilshire Division is urged to call robbery detectives at (213)922-8216 and (213)922-8217. Anyone with information about crimes in Beverly Hills should call the BHPD at (310)550-4951.
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