“Black Friday” — the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season — took on a whole new meaning with reports of flash mobs engaging in smash-and-grab robberies at multiple retail outlets in California, Minnesota and other states.
In California, Los Angeles County stores in the city of Lakewood and the Beverly Grove neighborhood were targeted by looters on the busy post-Thanksgiving shopping day.
A group of 15-to-20-year-old suspects set upon a Home Depot store in Lakewood around 7:45 p.m., making off with crowbars, mallets and sledgehammers, KTTV reported.
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) November 27, 2021
Arriving in as many as 10 vehicles, the ski mask-wearing group ran into the store and took an entire section of hammers before leaving, according to KCBS-TV.
The stolen tools could be used in more robberies in the area, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told the station.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
Meanwhile, in the bustling shopping and dining district of Beverly Grove, looters stole high-end merchandise, pepper spraying anyone who tried to stop them, Fox News reported.
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It was unclear if any arrests had been made in the case.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom affirmed a stronger police presence throughout the state is necessary to combat such crime.
“Everybody’s got to step things up,” Newsom told Fox. “We need to see more law enforcement, see more deterrents, more presence. You’ve seen more, you’ll see even more CHP [California Highway Patrol] officers out on the roads.”
The governor affirmed that enhanced efforts by law enforcement would continue.
“You’re going to see it in and around large shopping malls and centers, going to continue to work collaboratively to address these organized efforts and call them out,” Newsom told KTVU-TV. “They need to be held to account. This is unconscionable behavior. Its impact is well beyond the victim: the business. We’re all victimized because there’s a level of distrust, lack of confidence in public safety that is inherent in what’s happening. We need to be more aggressive.”
Such brazen “Black Friday” robberies weren’t confined to the West Coast, with similar incidents taking place in America’s heartland.
A Best Buy in Burnville, Minnesota, was robbed, with a group of between 20 to 30 people stealing electronics and other good from the store, as chronicled by WCCO-TV reporter Nick Streiff.
Burnsville Police confirm to @WCCO that a group of 20-30 people robbed a Best Buy store near Burnsville Center mall around 8pm this evening. All of the suspects fled before police arrived. Police say no weapons were involved; unclear how much was taken.
— Nick Streiff (@nickstreiff) November 27, 2021
Another Best Buy in the nearby city of Maplewood saw a “large group” of 10 to 12 adults and juveniles, according to the Maplewood Police Department, enter the store and make off with televisions, tablets and hoverboards, Fox News reported.
In both Minnesota incidents, all suspects fled before police arrived.
California and Minnesota weren’t the only states to experience such post-holiday robberies.
WGN-TV in Chicago reported four smash-and-grab robberies of retail establishments took place early Thursday morning and early Friday morning.