Los Angeles. Los Angeles detectives arrested a 17-year-old man from South Los Angeles after he was identified in surveillance footage as the suspect wielding the hammer to smash a jewelry case and steal gold chains, along with at least three other accomplices.
“We want to put an end to this spree of smash & grabs,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Central Detective Division. “We’ve had six similar robberies along Broadway, downtown, since June 21, 2011.”
According to detectives, none of the six robberies are the same suspects, but they all appear to be crews of robbers from South Los Angeles gangs. “We saw a similar pattern this time last year,” Lt. Vernon said. “We made a number of arrests then and the activity stopped.”
Detectives have arrested the suspect seen wielding the hammer in the video at the Guadalajara Jewelry Plaza robbery on July 12, 2011. Witnesses wrote down the license plate of a black BMW. Detectives later found it and arrested the 17-year-old inside. They also found a cloth bag containing hammers in the car. The subject’s parents identified him in the video as the suspect with the hammer.
According to detectives and crime analysts, the smash+grab robberies are region-wide. “With the price of gold now at $1,600 an ounce, gang members have seen the benefit in taking the risk,” Lt. Vernon explained. “We’ve been in contact with a half dozen other agencies from Riverside to Ventura counties that have experienced similar robberies by the same type of suspects: groups of 4 to 5 Black gang members, between 17 and 30 years old.”
Since June 21, detectives have made nine arrests among 3 of the 6 robberies, and they have foiled robberies by detaining suspects seen casing Broadway stores. In one case, July 6, detectives arrested 4 suspects. “We were able to show a conspiracy to commit robbery among 4 men after officers saw them casing stores.”
Police hope that releasing the video will do two things: “First we want to tell the suspects we will catch you, so don’t try it; second, we want the public to help us identify more of the guys who have already committed the deed,” Lt. Vernon said.
Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Central Detectives at 213-972-1245. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S) 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.