The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion on Tuesday, Sept. 26, to secure a $15.6 million state grant to boost the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s response to organized retail theft.
“The shameless smash and grabs need to be stopped,” said Board Chair Janice Hahn, who co-authored the motion with Supervisor Hilda Solis.
“These are not petty thefts — these are organized violent operations that rob businesses of thousands upon thousands of dollars in merchandise, physically damage stores, and traumatize retail workers,” Hahn said. “This is a priority and with this $15.6 million grant, the Sheriff’s Department will have new resources to prevent these smash-and-grabs and root out the criminal organizations behind them.”
Organized thefts targeting large retailers and smaller jewelry and clothing stores have become a major problem across Los Angeles County this year, with criminals gathering in large numbers and using multiple vehicles to commit robberies in broad daylight, usually wearing masks, and fleeing before authorities arrive. The LASD will use the funding to support the department’s recently created Organized Retail Theft Task Force.
“These brazen organized retail theft sprees are hurting business communities across the county and retail companies are losing billions of dollars annually,” Sheriff Robert Luna said. “Our Retail Theft Task Force through our Major Crimes Bureau is focused on reducing these crimes by targeting these crews and aggressively pursuing not just those who commit the theft, but everyone in the criminal chain. This Organized Retail Theft Grant will allow us to continue to investigate retail theft crimes and provide dedicated staff and equipment necessary to continue to combat these thefts.”
The task force will consist of one lieutenant, three sergeants and 30 detectives dedicated to preventing and addressing organized retail theft, including smash-and-grabs, catalytic converter thefts and cargo theft. The task force, which will also be supported by civilian professional staff, will be divided into three geographic teams, and will collaborate with other law enforcement agencies, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and local businesses.
A recent survey from the National Retail Federation found that organized retail crime has increased by 26% since 2000.