Flash mob targets Home Depot in California, stealing tools that may be used to perform more robberies

Authorities in California said earlier this week they will begin cracking down on so-called “smash and grab” robberies being committed by large flash mobs following several high-profile incidents throughout the state, but some have not heeded the warning.

At least two more such incidents occurred on Black Friday in Los Angeles County, reports noted, and one of them appeared to be aimed at perpetuating smash and grab robberies into the future.

For instance, a group of thieves ages 15 through 20 raided a Home Depot outlet in Lakewood around 8:30 p.m. and stole several tools including crowbars, sledgehammers, and mallets before escaping in waiting vehicles, FOX11 in Los Angeles reported. L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies told the local outlet that one section of hammers was completely cleaned out.

Witnesses reported seeing as many as 10 vehicles pull up outside the store as ski mask-wearing thieves rushed inside to conduct their raid, KCBS-TV in Los Angeles noted.

Deputies investigating the incident told KCBS that they believe the tools that were stolen will be used to commit additional robberies at other stores.

Another incident occurred in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of L.A. when a large group of thieves stormed into a Bottega Veneta store, with one suspect using pepper spray against a person who attempted to stop them as others grabbed high-end merchandise, local reports noted.

It wasn’t clear how those suspects entered the store or if any arrests have been made, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told the L.A. Police Commission earlier in the week that heightened law enforcement presence would be deployed within the city limits on Black Friday as a deterrence to smash and grab robberies as well as other crimes committed with flash mobs.

The department planned to be “dedicating resources to some of these higher-end locations to deter further acts of violence,” Moore told the commission on Tuesday, according to FOX11.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also voiced frustration at the increasingly common robberies, calling the situation “unacceptable” during a FOX2 interview in the Bay Area. He also vowed to deploy a stronger police presence in portions of the state.

“Everybody’s got to step things up,” Newsom said. “We need to see more law enforcement, see more deterrents, more presence.

“You’ve seen more, you’ll see even more CHP [California Highway Patrol] officers out on the roads,” he added.

The governor went on to say that in July he worked with mayors and police chiefs from 13 California cities on a plan to stop the robberies.

And despite some recent incidents in L.A. and San Francisco, Newsom claimed that authorities have thus far made “hundreds of arrests” and have recovered “tens of millions of dollars” worth of merchandise over the time period, adding that the increased police presence would continue.

“You’re going to see it in and around large shopping malls and centers, going to continue to work collaboratively to address these organized efforts and call them out,” Newsom told FOX 2. “They need to be held to account.

“This is unconscionable behavior. Its impact is well beyond the victim: the business. We’re all victimized because there’s a level of distrust, lack of confidence in public safety that is inherent in what’s happening. We need to be more aggressive,” he said.

Missy Halsey


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