Los Angeles police said Monday that one of the tools used in robbing crimes during the holiday season is bear spray, a chemical irritant similar to pepper spray but more potent.
The department said in a statement that someone who was part of the group of suspects A Nordstrom in downtown San Fernando Valley November 24 used bear spray on a security guard.
LAPD releases security video of guards being sprayed.
The incident was part of a spate of loot and grab and flash-mob theft in November, which resulted in approximately $330,000 in damages for about 10 retailers, police said.
For comparison, the department’s passive, two-person art theft description had recovered about $4.4 million each year in stolen items since 1993, according to department data.
Last week the department announced 14 spree-related arrests during a press conference that included Chief Michelle Moore and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Moore has criticized California’s criminal justice system for allowing suspects to go free while they await their day in court. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said the “zero bail” for several nonviolent felony charges is a result of the California Judicial Council’s bail schedule.
The office had not yet charged any of the 14.
Moore told on Sunday Granthshala Los Angeles That he spoke to District Attorney George Gascon and was assured that “the full weight of prosecuting each of those individuals” was forthcoming.
Moore said the spree was part of a larger increase in crime. Last month, Los Angeles Police Commission Chairman William Briggs advocated a 12 percent increase in police spending, saying the extra cash was needed to prevent shoplifting.
The LAPD’s own data shows a decline in robberies (down more than 13 percent) and burglaries (down 7 percent) by the end of November compared to the same time in 2019.
Police figures show that overall arrests have decreased by 27 percent, but reports of violent crime have increased by 3.9 percent.
The chief described at least four incidents of November as robberies and said the loot and grab spree has been “violent and dangerous”, but none of the arrests were for robbery and there was no alleged violence.
According to the LAPD, six suspects were arrested on charges of grand theft, six for alleged theft, one for allegedly obtaining stolen property and one for driving without a license.
It added that one of the theft suspects is a minor.
The department said no one has been arrested over the bear spray incident.
The law offices of the Los Angeles County Public Defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment on behalf of the arrestees.
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