California authorities announce major retail theft bust

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LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined several Southern California police agencies on Tuesday to announce the arrests of three people in a series of smash-and-grab robberies targeting high-end stores.

Investigators say Isaiah Abdullah, 26, Ishmael Baptist, 25, and Nickolas Mallory, 26, stole more than $300,000 worth of merchandise from Burberry, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Gucci, Versace, and other luxury retailers over the course of two years.

As in many other smash-and-grab cases, the suspects would run into stores and hastily grab purses, accessories, and other high-value items and then run away, authorities said.

The stolen goods were then sold through Instagram.

$260K in high-end watches stolen during smash-and-grab robbery

“These were organized burglaries and attempted burglaries where the suspect would rip the bags off the displays even when the products were secured to displays with locks,” said Bonta. “These aren’t victimless crimes. Sometimes, the suspects would use force against workers.”

The smash-and-grabs occurred throughout the Los Angeles area and San Diego and also targeted stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Abdullah, Baptist, and Mallory face more than two dozen charges of robbery and grand theft.

Announcements like the one on Tuesday have been frequent since state and local officials announced a coordinated, multi-agency crackdown on retail theft following a surge in that type of crime in 2023.

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Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton, who joined Bonta at Tuesday’s news conference, believes the partnerships are making a difference.

“A strong economy and a feeling of safety should not be disrupted in any community by a delinquent few,” Hamilton said. “We will continue to strengthen public safety and build trust with our businesses and consumers alike through the incredible work of our local and regional partners.”

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