After Long Beach saw a string of commercial burglaries at stores and restaurants earlier this year, Southern California police departments are now trying to avert flash mob thefts and smash-and-grab robberies that have been happening around Southern California in recent months.
Posts on social media suggested police were warning Downtown businesses to expect flash mob robbers over the holiday weekend.
When asked whether police were alerting businesses about a specific threat, spokesperson Alyssa Baeza said in an email, “At this time, there is no indication these groups will be in Long Beach; however, we always encourage businesses to be proactive in their safety efforts.”
While smash-and-grab thefts have risen in the region, Baeza said, “Long Beach has not seen an increase in these crimes.” However police are increasing patrols and “visibility” in business areas, she said.
In just the past week, two separate incidents have raised concerns.
On Aug. 25, a shop in the 1000 block of Long Beach Boulevard was robbed at gunpoint by eight to 10 suspects, according to information from Long Beach police.
And on Aug. 27, Signal Hill police were called to the Home Depot on Spring Street after seven men stole $5,000 worth of power tools, police in that city confirmed. A video of the incident shared on social media showed a group of people in hoodies, some wearing face masks, grabbing boxes and carrying them away or loading them into carts.
Downtown Long Beach Alliance Deputy CEO James Ahumada said he hasn’t heard specific concerns from area businesses recently, but the organization works closely with police and uses its “clean and safe teams” as extra eyes on the street to watch for crime.
In February, the alliance brought in Long Beach police to give business owners tips such as how best to position surveillance cameras to watch their stores, Ahumada said, and people are encouraged to attend the “coffee with a cop” event set for Tuesday to talk about crime concerns.