More than a dozen gangs in the Los Angeles area are targeting people and robbing them of expensive items including watches and jewelry, police said.
The thefts are a part of an ongoing trend the Los Angeles Police Department called “follow home robberies,” where suspects target victims, follow them, and then rob the victims as they go into isolated areas such as their homes.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson said Wednesday that at least 17 gangs, operating independently, are believed to be connected to the robberies.
In one alleged attack on Monday, a woman leaving a jewelry store in downtown Los Angeles was followed by two suspects in a silver Dodge Challenger, police said in a news release. As she approached an intersection, one of the suspects got out of the Challenger, approached her car, and used an unknown tool to shatter her driver-side window.
“The victim attempted to drive away but was unable due to heavy traffic. When her vehicle stopped, the victim exited her vehicle and ran westbound on 8th Street seeking help,” police said.
The suspects, one allegedly armed with a gun, chased the woman in their vehicle, struck her with their car and got out. The victim “immediately removed her watch and threw it on the street,” police said. The suspects grabbed the watch and fled.
The woman sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene. As of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests had been made.
Another attack happened last year as the victim left a design school. Police said the male victim was returning to his business when he noticed a white Maserati was following him. As he pulled up to his business, the Maserati drove up alongside and three suspects got out.
“The victim attempted to run away from the suspects but was chased and pushed to the ground. While on the ground, one suspect pointed a handgun at the victim’s head and demanded the victim remove his watch. Two additional suspects then removed the victim’s property. During the robbery, a fourth suspect removed the victim’s personal property from his car,” police said in a separate news release Friday.
The victim said an estimated $604,000 worth of items were stolen including two watches, a laptop, and an iPad.
Cheyenne Hale, 25, of Los Angeles, was arrested on April 6 in connection to that robbery. He’s being held on a $90,000 bail, jail records show. An attorney was not listed for him.
Several other robberies have been connected to suspects Matthew Adams, Jayon Sparks and Eric Wilson, according to police. The crimes happened between January and March, according to a news release.
Sparks and Wilson were arrested on March 24, and Adams was arrested on March 31. Sparks was charged with two counts of robbery and one count of possession of a firearm, and Adams was charged with crimes including seven counts of robbery and two gun enhancements. Both remain in jail on bail.
Wilson was charged with one count of possession of a firearm, and was released on bond. Police did not say how he was involved in the crimes.
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that two murders have been associated with the follow home robberies, and urged the public to be mindful of their surrounding.