Tuesday, 22 August 2023

Police Release California Smash And Grab Suspect To Hospital As City Scrambles To Combat Theft

 Police have released to the hospital an alleged robber in one of the Los Angeles area’s recent smash-and-grab robberies as the city scrambles to curtail rampant retail theft.

The Glendale Police Department released Ivan Isaac Ramirez on Thursday to a local hospital to address his “health issues” after he was arrested earlier in the day on charges related to the smash-and-grab robbery at the Americana shopping mall just north of Los Angeles.

Two weeks ago, a group of 30 to 40 thieves robbed a Yves Saint Laurent store at the mall in broad daylight, absconding with an estimated $300,000 worth of merchandise, police said.

Footage from the incident shows over a dozen people mostly dressed in dark clothes, hoods, and masks dashing into the store and running out again, their arms full of the expensive merchandise.

Ramirez, 23, is charged with organized retail theft, burglary, grand theft, and conspiracy, according to police. He is scheduled to appear in court on September 15.

Then on August 12, a mob of nearly 50 people in hoodies and masks stole up to $100,000 in luxury merchandise from a Nordstrom in Los Angeles. The thieves also attacked security guards with bear mace.

Now, Los Angeles and Glendale are scrambling to address the rise in shoplifting, including massive groups engaging in organized retail theft, like this month’s smash-and-grabs.

Last week in the wake of the smash-and-grab robberies, Los Angeles launched a task force to combat the uptick in retail theft, including organized smash-and-grab robberies involving large groups of thieves. The Organized Retail Crimes Task Force was announced by Mayor Karen Bass, the LAPD, and several other law enforcement agencies.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in announcing the task force, “What we’ve seen over just the past week in the City of Los Angeles and in surrounding regions is unacceptable, which is why today we are here announcing action.”

Most types of violent crime are down in Los Angeles except theft, which is up 15% to more than 20,409 thefts compared to this time last year, according to police data.

Since the fall of 2021, Los Angeles County has seen at least 170 organized retail thefts, including the smash-and-grab trend, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.

Late last month, police said another group of masked thieves stole $900,000 worth of merchandise from a jewelry store in Irvine just south of Los Angeles and Glendale.

Critics argue that the thieves are emboldened by California’s progressive prosecutors, who rarely force the shoplifters to face significant criminal consequences, instead enforcing policies like “zero bail.”

Progressive Los Angeles district attorney George Gascon implemented a “zero bail” policy for all but the most dangerous criminals after he was elected. Last year, Gascon backed off the “zero bail” policy when he was facing a potential recall, but a judge reinstated the policy earlier this year.

The Los Angeles area has seen a string of other crimes besides retail theft this summer. In some cases, the suspects have either not been caught or released onto the street again.

A repeat offender known as the Barnes & Noble “sniffer” who has been in and out of jail since 2005 was released again this month after he was accused of peeping into a family’s home where there were children.

The area also recently saw a string of robberies at six taco stands, a homeless man allegedly running over a 66-year-old, and a deadly shooting during a street takeover that killed two. Los Angeles has seen multiple “street takeovers” this summer, including one where 150 reportedly did stunts for crowds of spectators.

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