Law enforcement believes it is a pattern
Southern California jewelers have been struck by a series of robberies that may be the work of one often-violent gang, according to a new Jewelers’ Security Alliance bulletin.
The group may have committed seven armed robberies throughout the state, nabbing $4 million in watches from independent and chain jewelers in Malibu, Canoga Park, Torrance, San Diego, West Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, and Costa Mesa.
Several things make this gang unusual, says JSA president John Kennedy: It primarily steals watches, of several different brands. Gang members do not seem hesitant to use violence—in one case pepper-spraying employees and in another, pistol-whipping them.
“We are treating it as a pattern,” Kennedy says. “I think law enforcement is, too. The robberies have a very similar MO.”
There have already been four arrests in connection with two of the robberies, but Kennedy says that most gangs don’t stop their criminal activity until everyone is caught.
“It might be a very large gang of people doing it,” he adds. “There were 35 people arrested with the Detroit gang.”
Kennedy warns jewelers that this is a potentially dangerous group and to follow JSA’s recommendations for robberies and not do anything to increase the likelihood of violence. They include: obeying the orders of the robbers and cooperating fully; not saying anything, or even raising hands, unless told to do so; not reaching for a weapon or attempting to disarm the robber; not pressing the alarm until the robbers are out of the store; not chasing the robbers out of the store; calling police the minute the robbers have left; not talking to the media; and making sure witnesses don’t leave.
JSA recommends stores rehearse what to do in case of a robbery.