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Law Enforcement Leaders Share Plan to Fight Smash-and-Grab Retail Theft During Holiday Season

Tanu Henry, Lila Brown, and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media 

A video recently went viral online showing a brazen flash mob of about 17 young people robbing a Nike store in Watts, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. The culprits got away with an estimated $12,000 worth of goods.

This incident along with many others like it capturing the growing incidents of violent store heists in the Golden State prompted State and Local Law Enforcement to highlight new and intensified efforts to combat theft during the holiday shopping season.

On Nov. 20, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is increasing statewide efforts to combat organized retail crime.

“When criminals run out of stores with stolen goods, they need to be arrested and escorted directly into jail cells,” Newsom said in a statement. “Leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars in law enforcement investments, the California Highway Patrol — working with allied agencies — is increasing enforcement efforts and conducting and supporting covert and confidential takedowns to stop these criminals in their tracks during the holiday season, and year-round.”

As part of the Governor’s Real Public Safety Plan, the CHP is increasing its law enforcement presence in key retail districts across California and its Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) is increasing enforcement efforts through proactive and confidential law enforcement operations with allied agencies and retail store security outfits through the holidays — keeping more shoppers, merchants, and retail districts safe.

The Governor’s office hosted a news briefing featuring California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Sean Duryee, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Sheriff Holly Francisco, and District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.

“The men and women of the California Highway Patrol are working around the clock to keep shoppers, merchants, and retail districts safe this holiday season– and year-round,” said Duryee. “Much of our task force’s success can be attributed to the strong working relationships we have with our law enforcement partners throughout the state and the rapport we have cultivated with the retail industry.”

“My office takes these cases seriously and will continue to do our part to hold those who engage in this behavior accountable,” said Jenkins. “These crimes are deeply impactful and will not be tolerated. Law enforcement agencies are working together to identify, arrest, and prosecute the thieves and those who traffic in stolen merchandise.”

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John McKinney has been a vocal critic of current DA George Gascón because the Sheriff’s Department will no longer detain suspects over crimes like theft and shoplifting since the new zero-bail policy went into effect on Oct. 1.

“These robberies aren’t borne out of desperation. They’re the result of having a district attorney who won’t enforce the law,” McKinney told California Black Media. “As long as criminals know there won’t be any accountability for their actions, then retail businesses of all sizes will continue to operate in constant fear and eventually depart for safer cities. Beefing up law enforcement may provide some deterrence, but, ultimately, we need a district attorney that understands accountability is a necessary part of a safe and functioning society.”

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