LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles police are warning people that wearing expensive jewelry in public could make them a target for thieves – a note to watch out for when robberies are underway. across the city.
The police department’s request on Tuesday came when robbers smashed the front window of a Beverly Hills jewelry store in broad daylight and fled with millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise.
Passersby captured video of Tuesday’s robbery, the latest in a long string of blatant thefts and robberies by people wearing expensive watches or jewelry in the Los Angeles area.
In the city of LA, robberies are up 18% year-to-date compared to 2021. Firearm robberies are up 44% during the same time period citywide.
An LAPD statement said: “Over the past year, the number of armed robberies involving victims wearing expensive jewelry in public has increased dramatically. If it can be seen, it can be seen. is a goal”.
In November, detectives from the police department’s elite Homicide-Murder Division formed the Home Hunt Task Force to investigate crimes where people targeted and tailed by criminals go home or a deserted area. People are often watched from areas like Melrose Avenue and the city’s jewelry district, as well as high-end restaurants and nightclubs in Hollywood and Wilshire.
“Victims were targeted based on the high-end jewelry they were wearing or the luxury car they were driving,” police said in a November statement announcing the creation of the task force. duty.
In Culver City, police last week announced arrests related to separate robberies – including one in which victims were targeted and tracked home – earlier this month.
In one case, armed thieves allegedly stole more than $3,600 worth of jewelry from a man at a mall garage. In another incident, one victim was shot with a pistol and the other had their watches and phones stolen during a home robbery.
On Tuesday, masked robbers used a sledgehammer to break the windows of Luxury Jewels in Beverly Hills, making $3 million to $5 million in merchandise before fleeing.
Owner Peter Sedghi said he was in his back office when he heard what appeared to be gunshots.
“I shouted to my staff, ‘Everybody on the floor, on the floor,'” he told The Associated Press.
Sedghi said he rang the alarm, grabbed his gun and ran to the front of the store, but the thieves fled. Police said the robbers went to a stolen vehicle and abandoned it, leaving it in another vehicle.
“We’re in the heart of Beverly Hills. Who thought this would happen in broad daylight?” he said Wednesday as his staff continued to take inventory of what was stolen.
In the wake of the famous robberies in the area – where people were targeted to buy things like Rolex watches and gold chains – Sedghi said some of his clients were afraid to wear their jewelry in public. and only wear it for events. such as weddings and gala dinners.
“Beverly Hills is considered a safe area, you can walk around and wear whatever jewelry you want,” he said.
A Beverly Hills police statement said additional security patrols and other measures were taken immediately. Residents are advised to be alert and aware of their surroundings.
“The choice to wear expensive jewelry is ultimately theirs,” Lieutenant Giovanni Trejo said in an email.
Associated Press writer John Antczak of Los Angeles contributed.