Undercover Police Sting Thieves At East L.A. Nike Store, Arrest 10 In Ongoing Retail Crime War

Score one for the good guys.

In the ongoing battle against organized retail theft at Los Angeles County stores, police arrested 10 people during a two-day undercover operation at the Nike Community Store in East Los Angeles.

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The arrests were made Thursday and Friday, and more than $3,000 of recovered merchandise was returned to Nike, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

Detectives with an LASD burglary-robbery task force worked with the East Los Angeles Station Crime Enforcement Team, Summer Enforcement Team and Nike Loss Prevention on various surveillance operations “to apprehend suspects, deter criminal activity, and protect life and property at the Nike Community Store in East Los Angeles,” the department said.

Of those apprehended, four were for alleged felonies, according to the LASD. Two of the suspects had outstanding arrests warrants, one of which was a shoplifting warrant. Two criminal street gangs have been identified in connection with the thefts.

Police posed undercover as young couples on a day out at the Nike store, which has been plagued by thefts.

“In this particular incident, they (robbers) came in pairs of twos, so we had five different crews come in and basically some of them acted like they were shopping, some of them had baby strollers that were empty and they loaded the baby strollers,” said Lt Robert Peacock of the LA Sheriff’s Department.

“Nike over a year period lost over $1m just in that one store, so if you multiply that by all the other retailers who are getting hit hard by this it’s got to be up in the multi-millions of dollars.”

Police are battling a recent wave of organized thefts at major retailers. Flash mobs of thieves have hit the Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, a Macy’s at Fashion Square Mall in Sherman Oaks, and a Nordstrom in Canoga Park, among other locations.

At least a dozen arrests have been made in those thefts, with police seeking still more suspects.

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