A Home Depot in Lakewood, California, was the latest business to be victimized by a rash of “flash mob” smash-and-grab robberies currently going on throughout the state.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department told CBS 2 LA that employees reported a group of between 8 and 20 people, between the ages of 15 and 20 years old, entering the Home Depot in the Lakewood Center Mall at around 7:45 p.m. on Friday. The suspects reportedly arrived in 10 cars, put on ski masks, and stole sledgehammers, hand hammers, and crowbars. The group then fled the scene in the cars. One car was described as a red Mercedes with severe damage to the front.
CBS 2 later reported that four suspects had been arrested in possible connection with the robbery. Beverly Hills Police received a call about several vehicles driving with no license plates around 9 p.m. Friday, according to the outlet. Officers responded, pulling over one of the vehicles and arresting the suspects.
“We’re currently working with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to see if there is a link to the Lakewood Home Depot incident or any other crimes that have been committed,” Beverly Hills Police Sergeant Jeff Newman told CBS 2.
The robbery was one of several attacks that took place around the country on Black Friday. A mall in North Carolina was evacuated after three people were shot at around 3:23 p.m. Friday afternoon, The Daily Wire reported. Among the reported victims was a 10-year-old boy with non-life-threatening injuries, and two other victims in unknown condition. Three others were injured during the evacuation, but those injuries were considered non-life-threatening as well, police said. One suspect was taken into custody, while two more are still at large.
A group of about 20-30 people also attacked a Best Buy store in Minneapolis around 8 p.m. Friday night, stealing an unknown amount of merchandise, then fleeing before the police could arrive. No arrests have been made, according to CBS News. Another Best Buy in nearby Maplewood was also attacked.
The state of California has been reeling from the rash of “organized retail crime” in recent weeks, with groups of people breaking into stores, smashing merchandise displays, and grabbing as much merchandise as they can before fleeing the scene. A group of thieves stole more than $20,000 from an Apple store in Santa Rosa, about 50 miles from San Francisco. Another mob attacked a Nordstrom luxury outlet in the Los Angeles area, assaulting a security guard with an unknown chemical and making off with at least seven luxury handbags. Last weekend, mobs robbed three different stores in the San Francisco Bay Area in a span of three days.
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told CNN Thursday that he believed the thefts would eventually spread across the country. “This is something now that I really unfortunately think is going to spread,” Ramsey said, as reported by The Daily Wire. “Right now it’s in California, but it will spread, there’s no question about it.”