High-end retailers in Los Angeles are being targeted in flash mob robberies, where dozens of people ransack stores to steal luxury goods. Dressed in monochrome black and gray head to toe, a mob recently stormed through the doors of Nordstrom at the Westfield Topanga mall Saturday afternoon.
More than 30 masked robbers, men and women, flowed into the Canoga Park store, immediately heading for the top-dollar purses, clothes racks and jewels.
The sound of glass display cases thrown to the ground sounded like gunshots, said a Nordstrom employee who had a clear line of sight of the robbery. She told customers to run to a back room in case the robbery turned violent.
The thieves snatched designer items, undeterred by the chains and cables binding the wares. The shelving was yanked apart. Some dragged display cabinets still attached to high-priced accessories toward the store doors.
“It was awful to watch,” said the employee, who was not authorized to comment about the robbery.
Overall crime rates in Los Angeles are down from last year, and a recent surge in smash-and-grab robberies makes up little of the overall problem of retail thefts. Still, the audacious daytime incidents over the last few weeks have cast a long shadow, leaving people who shop and work at malls unsettled.
The brazen Nordstrom robbery was captured on video and quickly became national news – and more fodder in the debate over how to respond to retail crime that is roiling big cities including L.A., San Francisco and New York. In recent weeks, organized mobs hit stores across the L.A. region, including Nike, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. A Ksubi store on La Brea Avenue was targeted Tuesday evening.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called the robbery “absolutely unacceptable... Those who committed these acts and acts like it in neighboring areas must be held accountable.”