Los Angeles now has its own task force to combat retail thefts

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass along with local law enforcement officials on Thursday announced the formation of a new task force to crack down on retail thefts amid a recent spate of smash-and-grab robberies across the Los Angeles area. 

During a press conference, local leaders revealed the task force went into effect Wednesday night. 

The task force includes 22 assigned full-time investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Glendale Police Department Burbank Police Department, Beverly Hills Police Department, Santa Monica Police Department, and California Highway Patrol, as well as federal partners. 

There will also be prosecutors embedded into this task force from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, LA City Attorney's Office, and the California Attorney General's Office. 


The task force will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will respond to all incidents and follow up on leads with a full scope of investigative resources, officials said. 

It is currently based in the San Fernando Valley, where authorities said the majority of crimes have taken place, in addition to the west region of Los Angeles. 

Bass emphasized that if "someone commits a crime, we'll catch you."

Gov. Gavin Newsom has since directed the CHP to triple its resources in Los Angeles to help the city crack down on organized retail crime.

"The state is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to crack down on organized crime and when our local partners need further assistance, we’re ready with a helping hand. The CHP is the proven leader in tackling organized retail theft and through this expanded partnership the agency will further assist the city in doing its job to keep Angelenos and their businesses safe," he said.

A Los Angeles Nordstrom store was ransacked by a mob of more than 30 people over the weekend, with the suspects getting away with nearly $100,000 worth of handbags and clothes.

On Aug. 8, a mob of thieves was seen on video as they fled a Yves Saint Laurent store in Glendale, in broad daylight, getting away with armloads of merchandise worth an estimated $300,000.

California, like many states, has seen brazen smash-and-grab robberies in recent years, a trend that saw an increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Authorities said not only will they be cracking down on suspected robbers, but other individuals who may aid in these crimes, such as getaway drivers, those harboring suspects, and those who buy or sell stolen merchandise. 

Officials also addressed the impact of the zero-bail policy, saying they will look at all chargeable offenses as robberies. 

"Each of these acts takes away from our piece of mind or our sense of our security when we want to go out and do shopping in retail communities," LAPD Deputy Chief Blake Chow said during the press conference in City Hall. "The Los Angeles Police Department will not tolerate these acts. We will not stand by idly while these acts continue."