A girl aged just 14 is part of an organized gang of looters arrested after the latest in a series of brazen daylight raids targeting stores in California.
She and her mentors didn’t even bother dressing up when they trashed the Nike store in Irvine, collecting armloads of clothes as they loitered before strolling seamlessly down the street.
The latest raid came as 12 Los Angeles counties launched a final legal challenge to the Democratic state’s new bail law, which allows “presumed innocent” suspects to return to the streets immediately after their arrest .
“Removing cash bail for these types of offenses is actually an invitation to these kinds of people who are prone to breaking the law and doing it in such a brazen way,” warned Tom Saggau of the Protection League of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Security footage from Thursday’s attack shows the four men and an unknown accomplice fleeing with about $3,000 worth of clothing, including hoodies, pants, shirts and sports bras.
Thieves were hunched over with all eight of their loot after raiding the Nike store in Irvine
Police believe this is not the first time the gang has targeted the Irvine store, with other outlets in Carlsbad and San Clemente also falling victim to $11,000 in stolen goods.
Police said the four men are believed to be part of an organized retail crime group that stole about $11,000 during a series of previous raids at Nike stores in Irvine, Carlsbad and San Clemente.
Bail was first introduced to combat the city’s jail overcrowding during the pandemic, but it expired last summer.
Los Angeles rapper 50 Cent warned the city was “finished” after announcing it would reintroduce the policy earlier this summer.
He spoke after a judge in the Democratic-led city ruled that forcing inmates to post bail when they couldn’t afford to pay was a violation of their constitutional rights.
“LA is over, look how bad it is over there. SMH (shaking head),” the hip hop star wrote on social media.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has been a strong advocate of the move, saying it would help “eliminate racial inequities and structural bias.”
“We will once again have the opportunity to make California a national leader in the unfinished fight for equity and justice,” he said in campaigning for the measure.
But it sparked a furious response in a state where thefts jumped 10 percent last year and nearly 580,000 thefts were reported to police.
None of the unmasked thieves appeared to fear being recorded by the store’s security cameras.
One even stopped for one last shot when she liked an item before leaving the store on Interstate 405.
An unknown man was also captured on camera leaving the store in Irvine.
Just one glance over the shoulder and a thief makes off with a huge pile of clothes.
“How are we going to ensure that criminals don’t feel like there are no consequences for the actions they take?” » asked Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger this week.
“Our communities have not been shy about letting us know how nervous they are about this change,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna told ABC7.
“They are concerned about the lack of consequences for those who commit crimes and particularly for those who repeat offenses.”
Last week, an alleged thief brazenly returned to the store where she was accused of stealing $600 worth of manicure supplies to demand that shopkeepers return the phone she had dropped.
“The owner and merchant told her that if she returned the stolen goods, she could get her phone back “no questions asked,” security footage showed.
The suspect then angrily pushed the store owner in the face and sent him tripping into the shelves of nail supplies behind him. She then attacked the pregnant cashier, lunging aggressively at her.
It came as dozens of stores in Philadelphia were targeted on successive nights by “flashmob” raids, breaking in and looting thousands of dollars worth of high-end products from retailers including Foot Locker, Lululemon and Apple.
More than 50 people were arrested, including Dayjia “Meatball” Blackwell, who livestreamed the thefts and encouraged others to join in.
She filmed a crowd as they looted a succession of stores, before heading to a liquor store where she herself bragged about grabbing a bottle of Hennessy.
“Tell the police that if they lock me up tonight, it’s going to be lit, it’s going to be a movie!” Everyone must eat! » she said to the camera.
She appeared distraught when police took her mugshot, but was released Thursday on $25,000 bail after brazenly begging her fans to pay for a lawyer.
Flash mobs involving up to fifty people attacking stores in the Golden State prompted the LAPD to form a task force.
In late August, the task force, called the Organized Retail Crime Taskforce, said it had made eleven arrests in four cases.
Earlier that month, a gang of more than 30 people made off with $300,000 worth of merchandise when they robbed a Nordstrom in the city’s Topanga Mall.
Videos circulating online show the thieves stealing luxury goods from brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry and Bottega Veneta.
The gang had also deployed bear spray to attack two store security guards, allowing them to cause chaos.
Dayjia ‘Meatball’ Blackwell, who livestreamed a wave of looting in Philadelphia and encouraged others to join in, appeared distraught as police took her mugshot.
The 14-year-old girl arrested in Irvine was arrested alongside Kristen Jamie Himbarger, 19, of Los Angeles, China Celeste Morris, 24, of Highland, and Anaiya Syrai Cole, 19, of San Pedro.
Glendora Mayor Gary Boyer said the no-bail policy that was reinstated Sunday poses a “threat to public safety.”
“As soon as other cities in Los Angeles County become aware of this, I am sure we will receive additional support,” he added.
“But our big hope would be to reverse the zero bail policy or at least put a pause on it so we can think about it more closely and find out whether it’s the right thing to do or not.”