Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore announced Tuesday he is setting up a task force to apprehend follow-home robbers, saying the department has not seen violent hold-ups “like this in decades.”
The troubling trend, which has targeted celebrities and upscale restaurants in recent months, turned deadly in the predawn hours Tuesday when a man was gunned down during an attempted robbery outside Bossa Nova restaurant in Hollywood.
Moore told the city’s civilian oversight Police Commission he was creating a follow-home robbery task force of more than 20 detectives from elite investigative divisions, including Robbery-Homicide, Metropolitan and specialized gang narcotics units, to identify and stop the growing threat to public safety posed by organized groups of criminals.
The department is already investigating at least 133 such robberies from areas including the Sunset Strip, Melrose Avenue, the Jewelry District and Westside shopping areas.
In the latest incident, a man was sitting inside his vehicle, along with a female passenger near Bossa Nova. The woman stepped outside, and eight people approached her from a car and tried to rob her, police said. The man, who was described only as a 23-year-old, “was coming to the aid of a female who was being attacked” by the robbers when he was fatally shot shortly after 2 a.m., Moore said. A Police Department spokesman said the man who was shot was armed.
Robberies are increasingly turning violent, and many are occurring after a person is followed from an establishment to their car or home, the chief said. “The impact this is having on the sense of community, or safety, is profound,” Moore said.
While robberies are up 3.2% this year compared with 2020 — but down compared with 2019 — Moore said the more alarming trend is the propensity of the suspects to use firearms to get what they want. “They are willing to use deadly force for items of value,” Moore told Los Angeles Police commissioners. With more suspects being armed, he warned there is more of “the potential for matters to escalate to something that we saw this morning.”
In the Wilshire Division, which includes much of the Melrose Avenue commercial strip, robberies have jumped 20% this year.