Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Mob robbery at Topanga Nordstrom sparks outrage, beefed-up LAPD patrols

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Los Angeles police are stepping up enforcement at area malls after a weekend robbery at the Nordstrom at the Westfield Topanga Shopping Center made national headlines.

Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Gisselle Espinoza said Saturday’s flash mob acted violently and efforts are underway to find the robbers.

“We are interviewing people and trying to find leads and strategies to find out who these people are,” said Espinoza, who helps lead the LAPD Valley Bureau. “They are savages.”

She said the concern goes beyond retail theft because of the safety fears the robberies are causing shoppers.

“We are doing everything we can to make people feel safe,” she said.

An estimated 30 to 50 people participated in the brazen daytime robbery at the Topanga mall shortly after 4 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police said the suspects, including both males and females, used bear spray during the attack and left in sedans whose license plates had been removed. Police estimated losses to be between $60,000 and $100,000.

A shopper at the store posted a video of the chaos on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, capturing pillaged clothing racks, broken glass from display counters and a mannequin lying on the floor near an entrance. Hooded figures carrying and dragging multiple bags can be seen dashing among debris as the clothing theft sensors sound in the background.

There were no injuries, according to a customer service representative who was unable to provide further details.

The Nordstrom store at the Topanga shopping center was the target of a similar heist in November 2021, when robbers attacked a security guard with bear spray and stole several high-end purses.

A similar incident took place Aug. 8 at an Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, when 30 to 40 people stormed the store and got away with about $300,000 worth of merchandise. The Glendale Police Department is investigating.

On Aug. 1, a Gucci store at the Westfield Century City Mall was also hit by at least nine people.

Overall, crime is down in 2023 in Los Angeles compared to 2022.

Through May 20, L.A. experienced a drop of more than 10% in violent crime this year compared with the same period in 2022. Property crime fell by slightly more than 1%, and arrests were up 4.4%, according to Police Department data.

By contrast, violent and property crimes both spiked in the first five months of 2022; the decline in violent crime this year brings the total for 2023 close to its 2021 level, but property crime remains significantly higher than it was two years ago.

Times staff writers Thomas Curwen and Terry Castleman contributed to this report.

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