The thefts began multiplying in the last year: Crooks smashed windows or entered unlocked doors to swipe luggage, shopping bags and other valuables from cars parked at tourist destinations across Los Angeles’ Westside.
As investigators chased leads, they noticed striking similarities in the heists: The suspects were Bay Area gang members traveling in rental cars to Southern California to commit crimes against unsuspecting tourists at shopping centers, museums and other high-traffic areas.
Scouring parking lots and garages for out-of-state license plates and scoping out windshields for bar codes indicating a rental car was their MO.
Now, detectives from police agencies in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are scrambling to stem a new, audacious crime wave in which hard-to-track out-of-towners are preying on vulnerable sightseers at some of the nation’s top tourist destinations.
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