Police in Los Angeles have begun hitting back at shoplifters who have targeted the city’s stores in a series of brazen daytime raids.
But police seized ten people and intercepted thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods at the Nike Community Store in East Los Angeles after posing undercover as young couples on a day out.
‘In this particular incident they came in pairs of twos, so we had five different crews come in and basically some of them acted like they were shopping, some of them had baby strollers that were empty and they loaded the baby strollers,’ said Lt Robert Peacock of the LA Sheriff’s Department.
‘Nike over a year period lost over $1m just in that one store, so if you multiply that by all the other retailers who are getting hit hard by this it’s got to be up in the multi-millions of dollars.’
One of the suspects is seen filling up a black trash bag full of the Nike footwear
A Los Angeles Nike store was hit by a pack of thieves who stuffed merchandise into trash bags and took off just days after an area Nordstrom was targeted similarly
As many as 50 thieves ganged up to steal up to $100,000 of high-end products in a single raid on the Nordstrom store earlier this month, some using pepper spray to neutralize security staff as they swarmed through the store.
One of the thieves was even seen pulling a large metal display shelf behind him as he fled, with a luxury leather bag still affixed to it by a security tag.
Up to $400,000 worth of goods disappeared in under a minute from the Yves Saint Laurent store in Glendale a week earlier when around 30 hooded and masked attackers stormed through the shop.
Shoplifting losses soared by a quarter in a year to $94.5billion according to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey.
And major retailers in the US have been forced to shut down stores due to millions of dollars in losses as rampant theft plagues big box stores across the country.
Walmart blamed shoplifting for its decision to shut down four of its stores in Chicago last week just weeks after America’s biggest employer shuttered its only stores in Portland.
Six people were arrested last week over an August 13 ‘flash robbery’ at the Nike store when the suspects were caught red-handed with burglary tools and $30K worth of stolen merchandise after their SUV was pulled over by LAPD officers.
Surveillance footage captured three people entering the store then walking out shortly after with trash bags that were filled with the stolen footwear.
LAPD detective Lt Robert Peacock (left) led the operation against the thieves who have targeted the Nike store
A brazen heist took place around 5:30pm on August 13 at the Nike Store located in East Los Angeles at 4585 Whitier Boulevard
City Hall has promised a co-ordinated police response to the wave of mass shoplifting events sweeping LA County
During the search, cops found multiple bags filled with stolen Nike sneakers.
Earlier this month Los Angles Mayor Karen Bass announced a new task force to hot back at the looters made up of different law enforcement agencies from Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Burbank and Santa Monica.
‘These are not victimless crimes,’ she told a press conference.
‘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.’
The latest operation was coordinated between LAPD’s burglary-robbery task force, the East Los Angeles Station Crime Enforcement and Summer Enforcement Teams and Nike Loss Prevention.
The department said the aim was to ‘apprehend suspects, deter criminal activity, and protect life and property at the Nike Community Store in East Los Angeles.’
The footage shows men in dark hoodies and face masks ransacking the Nordstrom store at Westfield Topanga Mall, even resorting to attacking security guards with pepper spray
Two of the arrested suspects had outstanding warrants against them, one of which was for shoplifting.
The detectives also identified two criminal street gangs associated with organized retail theft, authorities said.
‘We coordinated with store security, we had a crime analyst that we depend on within our own units and they try to come up with patterns and when it’s most likely time the store were being hit, then we coordinated with the stores and that’s how we come up with it,’ said Lt Peacock.
The store at 4585 Whittier Blvd, which lost more than $1million to shoplifting last year had $3,000 of stolen goods returned to it.