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A 'mob of criminals' stole more than $300,000 worth of goods from an LA Nordstrom

A screenshot of video posted by @noelskeez on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows masked robbers ransacking the department store in Topanga, Calif.
Screenshot by NPR
A screenshot of video posted by @noelskeez on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows masked robbers ransacking the department store in Topanga, Calif.

Updated August 14, 2023 at 7:46 PM ET

The Los Angeles Police Department said a "mob of criminals" ransacked a Nordstrom department store in Topanga on Saturday, stealing more than $300,000 worth of products in broad daylight. The smash and grab robbery is at least the third for a California Nordstrom in less than two years.

One of the videos from the robbery, shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Noel Escobar, shows masked individuals flooding through the Nordstrom storefront at the Westfield Topanga Mall, plowing through clothing racks and smashing display cases in a rush to grab whatever they could.

Police said on Monday that the thieves made off with more than $300,000 in "high-end handbags, clothing, and other easily re-sellable items," revising earlier estimates of the value of stolen goods. For residents and mall shoppers, "it is a loss of feeling safe," the LAPD said.

More than 30 robbers were involved and one suspect sprayed bear spray on the face and body of a security guard at the store's entrance, police said.

KTLA reported that several suspects with ties to other organized crime robberies in the area were arrested. The store was evacuated when the robbery ended.

Another "flash mob" robbery took place in Los Angeles County just days before, at the Yves Saint Laurent store in Glendale on Aug. 8. The Glendale Police Department said in a statementlast week that at least 30 suspects rushed into the store just before 5 p.m. and stole property valued at approximately $300,000.

"These 'flash mob' burglaries involve a large, coordinated group of individuals simultaneously rushing into the store, overwhelming staff and taking it over," Glendale Police said. "The suspects grab as much merchandise as possible before fleeing in multiple vehicles."

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called Saturday's incident "absolutely unacceptable."

"Those who committed these acts and acts like it in neighboring areas must be held accountable. The Los Angeles Police Department will continue to work to not only find those responsible for this incident but to prevent these attacks on retailers from happening in the future."

Saturday's robbery was the third Nordstrom heist in California in less than two years.

On Nov. 20, 2021, some 80 people conducted a nearly identical robbery in Walnut Creek, just outside of San Francisco. Like in the recent attack in Topanga, the Walnut Creek robbers utilized a chemical spray, using it on one of the store employees. Police arrested three suspects outside the store at gunpoint, NPR reported at the time.

And two days later, 18 to 20 people broke into a Nordstrom store at the Grove, a high-end shopping center in Los Angeles, stealing $5,000 of merchandise, the Los Angeles Times reported. Three suspects were arrested within a handful of hours with some of the stolen products in their car.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.