Group of Thieves Hit L.A. Nordstrom the Night Before Thanksgiving in Latest Retail Robbery: Reports
Police say five people robbed a Los Angeles-area Nordstrom — and attacked a security guard with a chemical spray — the night before Thanksgiving, in the latest in a string of retail robberies around California that has authorities vowing to crack down.
According to the Associated Press and local news reports, L.A. police say the thieves stole seven or eight luxury handbags totaling about $25,000 from the Nordstrom at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Canoga Park.
Police say the robbers, one of whom was wearing an orange wig, struck around 7 p.m., the AP reported.
A security guard at the scene was sprayed with some kind of substance and treated but was not seriously harmed, per the AP and KTTV.
The group then fled in a car, police told local media. No arrests have been made.
"It's unfortunate because these people that are here are just trying to shop for the holidays [and] for their families," L.A. Deputy Police Chief Alan Hamilton said, according to KCBS. "We've deployed extra officers here. It just so happened that this was one part of the mall where they were able to get in and get out, even with our officers being deployed here."
Wednesday's theft was the latest in a string of incidents at high-end stores around L.A. and San Francisco, including what police described as the ransacking of a Bay Area Nordstrom by approximately 80 people last weekend.
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"There was a mob of people," Brett Barrett, the manager of a restaurant nearby, told KPIX about the Walnut Creek robbery. "The police were flying in. It was like a scene out of a movie. It was insane ... It was a scary scene for a moment."
While critics say the thefts are linked to a 2014 measure approved by California voters that softened the penalties for thefts under $950, advocates have said that change was required to reduce the prison population because of a Supreme Court order in 2011.
"The overall problem is a challenge — the brazenness of some of these crimes," San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said earlier this year, per the AP. "When they see these things go viral, the perception of lawlessness, the perception that anything goes — that has to be overcome, too."
In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom, who recently survived a recall vote, signed a law that would allow prosecutors to again charge the crime of organized retail theft.
In various theft cases so far, suspects have been arrested and charged.
'We are going to be more aggressive still in this space to help support cities and the prosecution of folks," Newsom said on Monday. "I have no empathy, no sympathy for these folks, and they must be held to account."