The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) has recorded eight smash-and-grab robberies at Southern California jewelry stores in the last 10 days, as well as an unsettling string of thefts in Colorado. The California robberies began on January 12 and generally feature groups of masked men, one group numbered seven people, who smash jewelers’ cases then make a quick getaway. In most cases, the robbers are armed with guns, but in one instance they wielded pepper spray. The highest-profile robbery occurred at a store on January 18 inside the historic Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, former home of the Academy Awards ceremony.
The thefts are, for now, localized to Southern California. The JSA has logged two robberies in Los Angeles, as well as incidents in San Diego, Cerritos, Artesia, San Bernardino, Pico Rivera, and Whittier. JSA president John Kennedy says that it’s not clear if these robberies are related but considers that a safe assumption. “It definitely seems like they are the same gang or same group of gangs,” he says. “When you get this kind of cluster, you have to assume they are related. Eight robberies in 10 days is really a lot.” The robbers were all masked, making it difficult to get a good description, he says, though one of the suspects at the Biltmore robbery was female. [Source: JCK Online]