Police have arrested four suspects in connection with a series of flash mob robberies taking place across Southern California.
The suspects are believed to be part of an organized retail theft ring that targeted several high-end retail stores in Los Angeles and Riverside counties, according to the California Attorney General’s Office.
The suspects were identified as:
– Ziona Famoso, 18, from Compton
– Alana Hart, 18, from Los Angeles
– Jordan Harris, 18, from Los Angeles
– Jason Smith, 18, from Los Angeles
The smash-and-grab burglaries took place between Aug. 1 to Aug. 12 at:
– A Burberry outlet store in Riverside County with around $97,000 of stolen merchandise on Aug. 1, involving two suspects
– A YSL store at the Americana Mall in Glendale with around $300,000 of stolen goods on Aug. 8, involving two suspects
– A Nordstrom at the Westfield Topanga Mall with around $356,000 of stolen items on Aug. 12 involving three suspects
– Two suspects are also accused of a carjacking on Aug. 7
In total, victimized retailers estimated losses at around $750,000.
The suspects were arraigned at the L.A. County Superior Court on Friday and are facing multiple felony charges of organized retail theft, second-degree burglary, grand theft, vandalism, carjacking, second-degree robbery, and unlawful possession of ammunition.
“Organized retail theft harms businesses, retailers, and consumers – and puts the public at risk,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I want to thank our local law enforcement partners for their work in apprehending the suspects in this case. The California Department of Justice and its partners will continue fighting to keep our communities, businesses, and consumers safe from retail theft and other crimes.”
Earlier this week, 11 other suspects were also arrested in connection with a series of flash mob robberies taking place across SoCal.
The arrests involve an increasing number of flash mob robberies taking place across Southern California over the past month including previous incidents at:
-A Nordstrom at the Westfield Topanga mall
-A luxury handbag theft in Glendale
-A YSL store at the Americana at Brand in Glendale
-A luxury denim store in Hancock Park
-A Nike store in East L.A.
-A Gucci store at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa
-A Nordstrom Rack in Riverside
-A wig store in Beverly Hills
-A Macy’s at Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks
In most flash mob robberies, a large group of thieves will overwhelm store employees and security guards while grabbing as many items as possible before fleeing. Their hauls often exceed $100,000 since many of the targeted stores are high-end retailers.
“These are not victimless crimes,” said L.A. Mayor Karen Bass. “No Angeleno should feel like it is not safe to go shopping in Los Angeles. No entrepreneur should feel like it’s not safe to open a business in Los Angeles.”
The continuing thefts prompted the creation of an Organized Retail Crime Taskforce earlier this month to stop the rising number of group robberies targeting retailers.
The task force is comprised of several law enforcement agencies and will not only focus on the suspects robbing retailers, but also on those who purchase the stolen goods online, officials said.
Rick Caruso, owner of the Americana at Brand, issued a statement on the arrests saying:
“We extend our deepest appreciation to the Glendale Police Department and all local law enforcement for their dedication and commitment in apprehending those responsible for the recent smash and grabs, including Saint Laurent.
At Caruso, our top priority is to maintain a safe and family-friendly environment across our properties. We do not tolerate any activity that impacts the security of our guests, tenants, residents or employees. Each of these arrests is an important step in ensuring those involved are brought to justice and we want to especially thank the GPD for their continued support.”