Police step up presence at LA-area shopping centers after flash mob robbery at The Grove

Police departments across Los Angeles County are ramping up police presence near major shopping malls and retail outlets after a flash mob robbery of the Nordstrom at the Grove Monday night. 

“Our officers are encouraged to roll by a lot of retail agents,” said an LAPD spokesman, adding that officers are “on high visibility patrol” at the Grove, Americana at Brand, Melrose Avenue and other shopping areas. “Officers are talking to the business owners and encouraging them to keep an eye out.”

A spokeswoman for Unibail-Romanco-Westfield, which owns shopping malls in Southern California, including Canoga Park, Century City, Sherman Oaks, and Culver City, said the company is “coordinating with local law enforcement and is taking additional steps to ensure our property is as secure as possible for both retailers and shoppers.”

Rudy Flores, Santa Monica Police Department spokesman, wrote in an email that his department was “closely monitoring the flash mob theft incidents occurring within the region and nearby cities. We have been communicating and working in partnership with our business community, which caused some of the businesses to take a stronger stance to secure their property.”

He added that “after learning about the incidents that occurred in Northern California and Beverly Hills, we launched a comprehensive plan deploying a contingent of uniformed personnel throughout our business districts.”

Authorities have set up “a plan to monitor and remain highly visible within the major corridors around businesses,” according to Flores.

On Tuesday, dozens of police officers patrolled the area around Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place outdoor shopping mall that hosts high-end stores, including Luis Vuitton, Nordstrom, Coach, and Rolex. At least five patrol cars were parked outside Nordstrom.

The department store’s spokeswoman wrote in an email that ”given recent incidents at two of our stores and incidents across the industry, we’re heightening our in-store security presence and implementing additional protective measures to keep everyone safe.”

Security personnel will patrol inside and outside of the stores while “working closely with mall security and law enforcement to anticipate and minimize risk.”

She added that the company has “enhanced training and protocols designed to ensure all our teams feel prepared to respond in the event of a safety incident.”

Monday’s incident involved a group of about 20 people who smashed a display window at the Grove’s Nordstrom stealing $5,000 worth of merchandise and triggering a police chase.

“No customers were in the store at the time of the incident and our employees are safe, uninjured, and accounted for,” Nordstrom’s spokeswoman wrote in the email. “We are working with the Los Angeles police department in their ongoing investigation of the incident.”

Organized groups of looters have been taking part in smash-and-grab burglaries in Bay Area areas in recent weeks.

On Saturday, Luis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue stores in the Rodeo Drive area in Beverly Hills were targeted by a group of burglars, prompting the city to hire private security firms to patrol the area.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday California Highway Patrol would begin stepping up its presence around shopping malls.

“You will see substantially more, starting today, in and around areas that are highly trafficked coming into the holiday season, Black Friday, shopping malls, so the state is supplementing those efforts and we are going to be more aggressive still,” he said.

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