Los Angeles real estate mogul and former mayoral candidate Rick Caruso offered a simple answer when asked why he believes the city is seeing a surge in “flash mob” style robberies targeting high-end stores.
“They’re successful,” he says. “If you have bad behavior and it’s rewarded, then you continue with bad behavior.”
Video shows the thieves rushing through the main floor of the store, grabbing tens of thousands of dollars worth of items, and then running out the door as horrified shoppers look on.
LAPD says a security guard was bear-sprayed during the attack.
The robbery occurred in broad daylight during regular business hours, similar to the robbery at an Yves Saint Laurent store at Caruso’s Americana at Brand shopping mall in Glendale last Tuesday.
“We’re in a crisis,” Caruso says. “They’re happening more and more, and what worries me is they’re becoming more violent.”
While shoppers might blame lax security or general lawlessness in society, Caruso believes politicians and prosecutors share some of the blame.
“We need to be very clear with elected officials: we demand a better, more livable city. We demand [they] sit up, take note and change the laws and make sure that our district attorney is prosecuting these cases,” Caruso says, referring to declining prosecution of misdemeanor crimes in L.A. County and other policies that limit penalties for nonviolent offenses.
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón insists his office takes these mob-style robberies seriously and, if the thieves are captured, will prosecute them.
“We view them as organized crime and we will use every tool available under the law when there is an arrest made,” Gascón said on Monday. “There are people in our community who are buying the stolen goods and they need to be held accountable as well.”
As of Tuesday, police had not arrested any suspects in either mob-style attack.