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Flash Mob Robbery Thwarted in Santa Monica, Police Chief Says

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By Jorge Casuso

November 30, 2021 -- A flash mob robbery was thwarted Friday after a Downtown security staff member spotted a row of suspicious vehicles parked in the fire lane outside Nordstrom, police said Tuesday.

The security team member radioed for police assistance and noted the descriptions and license plate information of the seven vehicles with about 28 individuals inside, said Police Chief Ramon Batista.

"The vehicle’s occupants noticed his behavior, became antagonistic and left the area before officers arrived," the Chief said in a community update.

"Thanks to the keen observation skills and quick thinking of our downtown security services personnel, a potential 'smash/grab' crime was thwarted," Batista said.

Santa Monica police have been on "high alert" since a spree of flash mob robberies began at high-end stores in nearby cities nine days ago ("Santa Monica Police Monitoring Flash Mob Attacks in Los Angeles Area," November 23, 2021).

The first smash-and-grab attack in the Los Angeles area took place shortly after midnight a week ago Sunday when would be burglars used a sledgehammer to try smashing the windows at the Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue stores in Beverly Hills.

Late Monday night, an attempted raid of a Nordstrom store at the Grove shopping center in LA led to a high speed police chase.

The flash mob attacks continued during Thanksgiving week, culminating in six smash-and-grab robberies on Black Friday in the Fairfax District, Beverly Grove and Hancock Park, according to KCAL9.

In one high profile robbery Friday, eight teenagers or young men stormed the Home Depot in the Lakewood Center Mall and made off with hammers, crowbars, wrenches and sledgehammers.

By then, the flash mob robberies, which began in San Francisco, had spread to other American cities, prompting police forces to brace for similar attacks.

Early Thanksgiving morning and on Black Friday, smash-and-grab robberies took place in Chicago at a Canada Goose store, a Foot Locker store, a North Face store and a cellphone store.

Also on Black Friday, a flash mob of 30 looters raided two Best Buy stores in Minnesota, smashing and grabbing TVs, tablets and hoverboards.

The attacks made international news. One headline in JapanToday read, "Flash mob thefts terrorize U.S. retailers ahead of Christmas."

The rash of brazen robberies prompted former president Donald Trump on Tuesday to call for the national guard to help "if Democrats don’t immediately stop smash-and-grab robberies, which are taking place in their cities."

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it is "ramping up patrols of potential retail targets," City News service reported.

The Department also is "coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to try and prevent -- not just respond to -- 'flash mob' robberies."

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