Three suspects are in police custody today after they were arrested in connection with a reported mass smash-and-grab robbery at L.A.’s popular The Grove shopping center. Other suspects remain on the loose. It’s the latest in a string of flash mob-style looting incidents targeting upscale stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Police said they believe the suspects were part of a group of at least 20 people who allegedly robbed a Nordstrom store at the popular retail and entertainment complex in the Fairfax District just before 11 p.m. Monday.
The robbers at the Grove used a sledgehammer and assorted tools to smash one of the department store’s windows and reportedly took several items of men’s clothing, police said. At least four cars sped away from Nordstrom as LAPD patrol cars responded to the burglary call.
Local CBSLA and KCAL reporter Desmond Shaw posted aerial photos of the damage on Twitter.
More high end looting, this time at the Nordstrom at the Grove in Mid City. Smash and grab at one of the front windows, unclear what was taken but scooters are strewn around the window. LAPD had pursued some of those fleeing until they got out and ran in South LA. @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/mnFdpimKH2
— Desmond Shaw (@RoadSageLA) November 23, 2021
NBCLA reporter Robert Kovacik posted close-up video of the damage and a sledgehammer left nearby.
— Robert Kovacik (@RobertNBCLA) November 23, 2021
One group of suspects led police on a freeway chase and foot pursuit through South Los Angeles, using the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and the Harbor (110) Freeway as their getaway routes before exiting the 110 at Manchester Avenue at approximately 11:06 p.m. Monday, said Los Angeles Police Department Officer Drake Madison.
— christina heller (@CHellerTVNews) November 23, 2021
Police then created a perimeter and began a foot pursuit of the suspects in the area near Hoover Street and Vermont Avenue. Officers recovered several items of clothing, a cash register and gloves from a Nissan SUV, which they believe is a suspect’s vehicle.
It was not immediately known if the arrested suspects were part of the police pursuit, Madison said.
Barriers were installed today just outside the Grove where the robbery took place. The broken windows at Nordstrom were boarded up, according to images captured by local news media.
#BREAKING now on @ABC7: there’s barbed wire & a barricade up at The Grove after people looted a Nordstrom store, smashing through the windows. Police chased the suspects. @abc7jade is LIVE this morning with the latest on this ongoing crime spree. #thegrove #Nordstrom pic.twitter.com/QOFU8bHZ5H
— Brandi Hitt (@ABC7Brandi) November 23, 2021
The incident follows a similar mass robbery at a San Francisco-area Nordstrom store on Saturday which allegedly involved 80 people. Additionally, on Friday night, San Francisco’s Union Square saw a string of incidents. The businesses hit included a Louis Vuitton store, a Burberry store, a jewelry store, a Bloomingdale’s, a Walgreens, cannabis dispensaries and an eyeglass shop, according to S.F. Police Chief Bill Scott via CNN.
Also very early Sunday morning, the windows of Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills were smashed, according to the Times, which reported that “multiple suspects were seen traveling in several vehicles and that they ‘descended on the locations and used a sledgehammer to try to break through front windows.'” The burglars did not get into the stores, and nothing was taken, according to police.
At about 9:45 p.m. Monday, six suspects entered a CVS Pharmacy in the 5800 block of South Vermont Avenue in South L.A. and stole three cash registers, taking about $8,500 in cash, according to Officer Drake Madison of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was unclear if the same suspects later targeted the Grove.
Asked about the incidents on Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “These people need to be held to account. We need to break up these crime rings, arrest these crime rings.”
Later in the day the governor directed the California Highway Patrol “to increase their presence near major retail sites” and announced what he called “an exponential increase” in the 2022-2023 state budget to combat retail theft.
“My business has been broken into 3 times this year,” said Newsom, who co-owns a Napa Valley winery. “I have no sympathy, no empathy whatsoever for people smashing and grabbing, stealing people’s items, creating havoc and terror on our streets. None. Period. Full stop,” he said. “We want real accountability. We want people prosecuted, and we want people to feel safe this holiday season.”
On the last point, the Governor also observed, “These people are stealing a sense of place.” That statement is especially true of the carefully-curated and usually very safe environs of the Grove.
The Fairfax District shopping center is, of course, a popular venue for industry screenings and events. Apple CEO and Tim Cook and the cast of Ted Lasso were there just last week to open the new Apple store.
City News Service contributed to this report.