After 3 'flash mob' robberies in LA County in one week, officials seek answers

Officials in Los Angeles County are searching for information on three smash-and-grab robberies across the county over the last week, robberies District Attorney George Gascón called "unacceptable behavior in a civilized society."

The first "flash mob" robbery happened in Glendale on Aug. 8, at an Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana. A group of approximately 30 people ransacked the store in braod daylight, stealing $300,000 worth of handbags and clothes. Video taken from the scene showed the group running through the outdoor mall to cars that were speeding away.

On Aug. 12, a group of thieves tore apart the Nordstrom in the Topanga Mall in Canoga Park, making away with another $300,000 worth of goods, destroying store displays in the process. 

The third, also on Aug. 12, saw a group clear the shelves at a Sunglass Hut at the Westfield Culver City. Officers were able to detain three juveniles in that case and recover about $20,000 worth of merchandise.

"This is impacting the wellbeing of our entire community," Gascón said. "We view them as organized crime and we will use every tool available under the law when there is an arrest made."


Officials have not said whether and or all of the robberies are connected. 

If and when arrests are made, it's not clear what penalties could be imposed, as Gascón said "it depends on the case because it depends on the history of the individuals, but we are looking at every too including conspiracy."

But, Gascón said he doesn't just want to prosecute the thieves, he also wants to prosecute those who buy this stolen merchandise and resell it.

"There is a market out there for this merchandise."

One person outside the Nordstrom called the recent robberies "kind of a tragedy, in a way." Another told FOX 11 that they're not particularly scared of these flash mobs, though they can be dangerous. At the Topanga Mall robbery for instance, police said the thieves used bear spray on a security guard.

"If somebody's running at you, a group of people, honestly, get out of their way," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

Luna said his department will be communicating with other departments about these robberies, and promised once the LASD identifies the thieves, they'll make arrests. In the meantime, Luna urged everyone that if you see something, say something, but steer clear of danger.

"Don't get in their way," Luna said. "We don't want anybody getting hurt."