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LAPD crackdown on home thefts after shooting

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore on Tuesday announced he was setting up a task force to apprehend home thieves, saying the department had not seen violent heists “like this one. have been here for decades “.

The disturbing trend, which has targeted celebrities and high-end restaurants in recent months, turned deadly Tuesday before dawn when a man was shot outside Bossa Nova restaurant in Hollywood.

Moore told the city’s Civilian Oversight Police Board he was establishing a home theft tracking task force of more than 20 detectives from elite investigative divisions, including robbery units and homicide, metropolitan units and specialized gangs, to identify and stop the growing threat to public safety. posed by organized groups of criminals.

The department is already investigating more than 100 such thefts in recent months in areas such as the Sunset Strip, Melrose Avenue, the Jewelry District and Westside shopping areas.

In the latest incident, a man was seated inside his vehicle with a female passenger. The woman got out and eight people approached her from a car and attempted to steal her, police said. The man, who has only been described as a 23-year-old man, got out of the car with a gun to confront the thieves and was fatally shot shortly after 2 a.m.

Thefts are becoming increasingly violent, and many occur after someone has been followed from an establishment to their car or home, the chief said.

While thefts are up 3.2% this year from 2020, Moore said the most alarming trend is the propensity of suspects to use guns to get what they want. “They are ready to use lethal force for valuables,” he told Los Angeles Police Commissioners.

In the Wilshire division, which includes much of the Melrose Avenue commercial strip, thefts have jumped 20% this year.

Moore also said he was stepping up patrols around high-end retailers after Nordstrom at the Grove was targeted by a group of 18-20 people who stole goods worth $ 5,000 after. having broken a shop window with a scooter. and mass. The chief said it was the latest nationwide incident of groups targeting high-end retailers. Moore said three suspects were apprehended by officers after a pursuit in southern LA, where some of the stolen goods were found inside their getaway vehicle.

These high-end outlets and restaurants are also the places where home thieves watch their targets.

Two weeks ago, a team of masked thieves followed actor and former BET host Terrence Jenkins to his Sherman Oaks home and attempted to block him with an SUV, but he was able to escape in his car as shots were fired.

Also among those targeted in recent weeks was the Encino mansion of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Dorit Kemsley, where masked thieves have stolen up to $ 1 million in valuables. Detectives believe she was followed to her home before two men made their way inside.

LAPD detectives released a video of the two hooded and masked men breaking into the house shortly before 11 p.m. on October 27. In the video, one of the men breaks a sliding window.

Once inside, according to LAPD investigators, the men clashed with the TV star. “The two suspects threatened to kill her as she pleaded for her life and that of her young children,” police said. “Fearing for his safety, the victim acceded to the suspects’ requests and directed them to valuables. The suspects took away high-end handbags, jewelry and watches. “

LAPD captain Jonathan Tippet, who oversees the robbery and homicide division, said investigators believed multiple flight crews were behind the spate of crimes committed in recent weeks. Tippet said the groups, based on initial intelligence gathered during the arrests, are linked to gangs in Los Angeles.

Police have identified at least six gangs involved in home robberies, Tippet said. The LAPD is working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in West Hollywood, as that area is the scene of a significant number of such thefts, he said.

It was not clear how many home robberies there have been and how many crews are involved. LAPD crime statistics show that city-wide armed robberies in 2021 increased only 1.9% from 2020 and are down more than 15% from 2019.

Investigators compared the new wave of armed robberies to the trend of so-called door-robberies four years ago, in which assailants knocked on the front doors of wealthier residents and then entered if no one else was. was at home. Famous victims included former Dodger Yasiel Puig, ex-Laker Nick Young and Nicki Minaj. But they say the latest incidents are much more violent.

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