Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that the funds are being used by Los Angeles County. The money came from the state government.
County officials approved a $15.6 million grant to combat the rising number of smash-and-grab thefts targeting Los Angeles County retailers.
The funds were approved unanimously by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Funding will be given to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s recently created Organized Retail Theft Task Force.
The task force will be comprised of one lieutenant, three sergeants and thirty detectives focused on preventing and tackling organized retail theft including smash-and-grabs, catalytic converter thefts, and cargo thefts.
The task force will also collaborate with other law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s Office and local businesses, officials said.
A recent study from the National Retail Federation found that organized retail crime has increased in the U.S. by 26% since 2000.
“Unfortunately, this trend holds true in Los Angeles County,” county officials said. “At the same time, [retailers] have been faced with an increase in organized retail theft, including smash-and-grab robberies that have recently become more brazen and violent.”
“These brazen organized retail theft sprees are hurting business communities across the county and retail companies are losing billions of dollars annually,” said L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna.
County leaders said the new grant will help root out the criminal organizations behind the brazen thefts while working to prevent and reduce these types of crimes.
“Our Retail Theft Task Force through our Major Crimes Bureau is focused on reducing these crimes by targeting these crews and aggressively pursuing not just those who commit the theft, but everyone in the criminal chain,” Luna said. “This Organized Retail Theft Grant will allow us to continue to investigate retail theft crimes and provide dedicated staff and equipment necessary to continue to combat these thefts.”
Earlier this month, state officials announced they would be sending over $267 million to 55 cities and counties to specifically crack down on arrests and prosecutions for organized retail crime.
“The shameless smash and grabs need to be stopped,” said L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “These are not petty thefts — these are organized violent operations that rob businesses of thousands upon thousands of dollars in merchandise, physically damage stores, and traumatize retail workers.”