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News Release

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Media Relations

Stand-in-a-Wall Gang Targeting Food for Less NR15052pv

Panorama City: Detectives released video of three Black men in their thirties who are working as a team to steal cash from store tills while businesses are open. They hit four stores from one chain in a single day and may be targeting other chains.

"When you see it on video, it's quite obvious," said Det. Samer Issa, who is investigating the latest case from a Panorama City Food for Less store. "Two of the suspects form a wall like soccer players to block a clerk's view as their accomplice steals cash."

Video shows one man open the till from a closed check-out stand, while his accomplices stand shoulder to shoulder at an adjacent check-out stand.

"The accomplices bought just enough merchandise to prolong their check-out and give their buddy time to get the cash," Det. Issa explained. "The till tapper got several hundred dollars, and all three walked out together."

According to detectives, this till-tap team hit a total of four Food for Less stores; the others being in Devonshire, North Hollywood, with the first one of the day in Norwalk.

"Businesses can protect themselves from this crew by removing tills from registers when the register is not occupied," Issa said. "But we realize that becomes another issue for customer service when there's a need to open a check-out quickly. With some luck, someone will recognized one of these men and help us catch them."

The video can be shot off a monitor at the LAPD's Mission Police Station at 11121 N. Sepulveda Bl., Mission Hills, by contacting Det. Issa. We are unable to email the video.

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Det. Samer Issa, Mission Burglary detectives, at (818) 838-9977. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD." Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.

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