In response to a growing trend of organized retail crimes, including aggressive smash-and-grab incidents, Los Angeles County officials have sanctioned a $15.6 million grant. On Tuesday, this decision received a unanimous nod from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The allocation will bolster the efforts of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s new Organized Retail Theft Task Force. Structured with a lieutenant, three sergeants, and thirty detectives, the team’s mandate is to proactively prevent and combat organized retail crimes. This includes smash-and-grabs, theft of catalytic converters, and cargo thefts.

The initiative will also collaborate with other policing agencies, the District Attorney’s Office, and the local business community.

Nationally, a study from the National Retail Federation highlighted a 26% surge in organized retail crime since 2000. Los Angeles County, unfortunately, aligns with this worrying trajectory. The recent instances of smash-and-grab thefts have become more audacious and increasingly violent.

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Addressing the issue, L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna commented, “Retail theft sprees are significantly impacting the business community, costing retailers billions yearly.”

The grant aims to dismantle the criminal groups masterminding these thefts and adopt strategies to prevent and mitigate them. Sheriff Luna added, “The Retail Theft Task Force, part of our Major Crimes Bureau, is committed to curbing these crimes by identifying and actively pursuing not just the thieves but all involved in the criminal continuum. The Organized Retail Theft Grant empowers us with the requisite staff and equipment to intensify our fight against these thefts.”

Earlier this month, a broader state initiative was revealed where over $267 million would be disbursed across 55 cities and counties. This fund focuses on arresting and prosecuting those involved in organized retail crimes.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn remarked on the severity of the situation, saying, “These aren’t minor thefts. They’re meticulously planned, violent operations that cost businesses vast sums, cause physical harm to establishments, and deeply affect retail staff.”