On August 17, Los Angeles city mayor Karen Bass announced a new regional task force consisting of 22 investigators to focus entirely on the smash-and-grab phenomenon sweeping Southern California.
The city’s newest mayor called together the coalition in the wake of a string of smash-and-grab robberies in the region responsible for a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Up to 30 people stole items from high-end retailers such as Nordstrom in Canoga Park and the Yves St. Laurent store in Glendale about a week earlier in August.
This is in addition to multiple other retail thefts occurring all across the county over the past year, including jewelry stores and smaller retail outlets.
The National Retail Federation estimates that stores have lost nearly $100 billion dollars to organized retail theft in just the past year.
Crime along California’s most popular coastal city has gotten so bad that even celebrities such as 50 Cent are chiming in. After the flash mob smash-and-grab video went viral, the famous rapper said in a post on Instagram, “LA is finished.”
The “multi-agency organized retail crimes task force” consists of members of the LAPD, LA County Sheriff’s Department, and Glendale Police Department, along with other local police departments and state partners at the CHP and federal partners.
Bass called the force, “coordinated, unified and urgent.”
“No Angeleno should feel like it is not safe to go shopping in Los Angeles. No entrepreneur should feel like it’s not safe to open up a business in Los Angeles.”
She proclaimed “To Angelenos, our message is clear. Those who commit these crimes will be caught, they will be held accountable, and we will work to address this issue.”
Apparently, no one received Bass’s memo.
One individual charged in the Glendale mall robbery was arrested, charged, and released the very same day Bass declared the city would be cracking down on retail theft. This doesn’t exactly send the “tough on crime” message citizens were hoping for.
L.A. Reinstates No Bail Laws
Despite the city’s announcement to combat crime, Covid era emergency bail laws were reinstated in California just a week prior, allowing criminals to walk free without bail for misdemeanors, and some felonies.
An L.A. judge who ruled in favor of cashless bail stated, “Enforcing the secured money bail schedules against poor people who are detained in jail solely for the reason of their poverty is a clear, pervasive and serious constitutional violation.”
Former L.A. County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, who received some attention during Covid for refusing to enforce restrictive mandates, stated in an interview on Fox and Friends First, “this is not going to make matters any better.”
Neither the current sheriff nor the district attorney showed up to the case that led to the ruling to represent the people they supposedly are tasked with protecting.
Villanueva shared that “the D.A. and the sheriff both represent the progressive movement in California that has been an utter disaster for public safety.”
He continued, “This theory that well, we’re going to be criminalizing poverty has nothing to do with poverty. It has something to do with behavior that is harming people. So that behavior is going to continue unabated. It’s a failure of leadership at epic levels and this is really going to hurt L.A. when we need the help the most.”
Villanueva claimed this recent move by law enforcement in Los Angeles is just “adding to the pile of things that create misery here in L.A. County.” He says law-abiding citizens are “looking for some relief, some leadership. They’re not getting it. They’re not getting it at the state level with Governor Newsom and the legislature, they’re not getting it here in L.A. County with Geroge Gascon. That’s why people are fleeing California, wholesale.”
Well, that and the homelessness, rampant drug use, and astronomical cost of living, but who’s counting?
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor and opinion writer for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics, and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.