As the holidays approached, the “smash and loot” robbers attacked the US retailer Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: The appearance of the Nordstrom flagship store can be seen in the media preview held in New York, USA on October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Authors: Julia Harte and Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters)-On Monday night, the Nordstrom (NYSE:) department store in a Los Angeles shopping mall became the latest target in a series of “smash and loot” robberies during the holiday shopping season in California and Illinois Attacked the luxury retailer method.

The Los Angeles Police Department said it has detained three suspects. Local reports indicate that as many as 20 people may have participated in break-ins and thefts.

Law enforcement authorities said they were shocked by the brazen burglaries targeting high-end stores in these two states in the past week-some of which involved dozens of people.

In recent days, videos from the chaotic theft known as “smashing and robbery” flooded social media, showing masked people breaking into stores, running out with bags of goods, and escaping in an idle car outside.

Given the high density of luxury retailers, the San Francisco Bay Area has been hit particularly hard. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the region is one of the wealthiest areas in the United States, and the median household income is almost twice that of the country.

According to a press release from the Walnut Creek Police Department, about 80 people entered the Nordstrom department store in Walnut Creek, East Bay on Saturday night and stole the goods until the police arrived and arrested three people.

“The police are investigating this clearly planned incident,” the press release said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has instructed the California Highway Patrol to increase their presence near major retail areas.

Nordstrom said it is improving safety by placing guards inside and outside the store and increasing training.

According to media reports, stores run by Louis Vuitton and Burberry, which are owned by the French luxury goods giant LVMH, were also stolen by a group of people over the weekend.

Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:) chief executive Corie Barry (Corie Barry) said on Tuesday that organized thefts in stores have increased significantly in recent weeks.

Barry said on a media conference call: “Sometimes it carries some kind of potentially threatening device, such as a gun or sometimes a crowbar. Sometimes it just runs in, grabs it, and leaves.”

Barry said that she is taking measures to prevent more robberies by locking down products on display and hiring security guards.

Retail crime experts say that the rise of organized crime before the holidays is not a new phenomenon, but it has become more rampant in recent years, partly because retailers have strengthened their security measures.

“Retail criminal groups need to stock up for the holidays like legitimate retailers,” said Joseph La Roca, a Los Angeles anti-theft consultant and former vice president of loss prevention at the National Retail Federation.

He said that the man behind the recent robbery is a complex organization, “not ordinary shoplifters, going in and out to steal small things.” But this makes it easier for investigators to trace funds to the leaders of such operations. Hands.

La Roca also stated that criminals may become bolder by mitigating penalties for certain crimes, such as California’s Proposition 47, which reclassified certain felonies as misdemeanors in 2014.

But Charis Kubrin, a professor of criminology, law and sociology at the University of California, Irvine, said that her research shows that the increase in violent crime has nothing to do with criminal justice reform measures such as Proposition 47.

Kubrin said it is difficult to explain the source of the current wave of organized retail crime in California and other states.

Kubrin said: “Between the pandemic and economic challenges, as well as problems between the police and the community, there are many factors happening at the same time. It is difficult to single out one factor.”

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