Friday night at around 7:45 p.m., approximately 10 men acting in a criminally organized manner stole hammers, crow bars and other tools from the Home Depot at Lakewood Center. It’s assumed these were tools they would use in other robberies later. They quickly fled in vehicles.
This makes Lakewood the latest site in the growing wave of “flash mob thefts” and “smash and grab thefts” that have plagued the nation. Similar thefts have recently occurred in Beverly Hills, the S.F. Bay Area, and malls around the nation.
One piece of good news: four suspects have been arrested and booked at the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station, along with items of stolen property. Leads are being pursued to arrest the other suspects.
The City of Lakewood and our public safety partners at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department take this incident and the growing wave of organized crime thefts very seriously.
Investments that the City of Lakewood has made in extra public safety resources to fight these crimes and to protect our overall community include:
Lakewood’s Sky Knight helicopter was quickly over Home Depot and Lakewood Center last night. Very few cities the size of Lakewood have such a valuable public safety tool. Sky Knight’s value is demonstrated on a regular basis by the speed at which it can arrive at crime scenes to search for suspects and by the unique patrolling it does from the sky to cover hard-to-reach areas of the city.
The city and Lakewood Center are partnering to pay for extra Deputy Sheriff patrols in the wake of the Home Depot theft in order to provide an added level of security at the mall. Thanks to Lakewood residents passing Measure L, the city has the financial resources to pay for such extra patrols now and in the future, not just at the mall but across the city as needed.
Lakewood has also invested in additional Community Safety Officers over the past year. CSOs are specially trained civilian employees who patrol throughout the city, providing an extra set of eyes and ears and public safety problem-solving; they provide valuable support services like fingerprinting; and they work in partnership with the Sheriff’s Department to expand the amount of time that Deputy Sheriffs can spend responding to calls for service. The CSOs are one reason that Deputy Sheriff response time in Lakewood is consistently above the average for L.A. County as a whole.
Lakewood continues to invest in its high-tech system of license plate reading cameras on major intersections around Lakewood Center. This valuable public safety tool has led to the arrest of hundreds of wanted suspects since its installation.
The City of Lakewood will be communicating to the L.A. County District Attorney to ask that the suspects in the Home Depot thefts and other recent smash and grab/flash mob thefts be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in order to put an end to this disturbing new crime trend.
Remember, as a resident, you can play a valuable role in public safety as well. If you see something suspicious, say something. Call 9-1-1 if it’s an emergency in progress, or call the 24-hour Lakewood Sheriff’s Station business line at 562-623-3500.
And please consider joining (or starting) a Neighborhood Watch program on your block. To learn how, email [email protected] or contact city staff at 562-866-9771, ext. 2114.