The Los Angeles Police Department will deploy extra patrols and detectives following a series of smash-and-grab robberies at three cell phone stores Monday night in what has become an ongoing trend where organized gangs of thieves loot retail shops for thousands of dollars worth of merchandise in a matter of seconds.
The thefts all occurred in the city’s San Fernando Valley area, the LAPD told Fox News. All involved at least three suspects but no arrests have been made.
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Investigators are looking into whether to incidents are related. The LAPD said a similar incident also occurred in Duarte, a suburb located nearly 22 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
A police spokeswoman did not reveal which cell phone stores were targeted, but a search revealed T-Mobile locations in the areas where the robberies occurred. Fox News has reached out to the telecommunications giant.
Los Angeles has seen a sharp rise in organized groups of thieves looting stores, sometimes in violent fashion in front of stunned shoppers. Last week, the LAPD announced the arrest of two adults and four minors allegedly linked to four flash mob incidents.
Shopping outlets like the Beverly Center and The Grove have been targeted as well as a swap meet where cash and jewelry were taken. In one incident, a suspect knocked a pregnant employee to the ground. A security guard was attacked with bear spray in another.
No retailer is particularly safe as pharmacies, convenience stores and cannabis shops have also been ransacked in recent weeks. Some thefts are being coordinated online through social media and messaging apps, authorities said.
The LAPD has also formed a task force to address the rise in “follow-home” robberies where thieves follow victims home or to a secluded area to rob them.
Critics blame the crime wave on a perceived lack of consequences as a result of zero-bail rules and laws that have reduced the penalties for such crimes.
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The office of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has pledged to hold those arrested for such crimes accountable.