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Psaki says the FBI and DOJ are stepping in to track down smash-and-grab gangs

Federal law enforcement agencies are working with local officials to crack down on a wave of smash-and-grab raids, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday, a day after she said the pandemic was behind the surge in crime.

Big U.S. cities are being plagued by gangs of thieves storming through luxury stores and making of with thousands of dollars in merchandise at a time. 

San Francisco and Los Angeles have been particularly badly affected.  

Psaki was asked about the issue on Thursday and said the pandemic was a ‘root cause’ of the problem.

A day later she brought up the subject withou#t being asked during her daily briefing.

‘The Justice Department, the FBI and federal law enforcement has been in touch, in contact with jurisdictions where we have seen this high level of retail theft,’ she said. 

She said the FBI was working with a task force set up with LA Police and that San Francisco was getting funding to hire 50 more officers.  

California is worst affected but cities across the nation have been hit, including Chicago and its suburbs, where more than a dozen suspects attacked a Louis Vuitton store recently stole more than $120,000 worth of high-end clothing and other merchandise. 

Federal law enforcement agencies are working with local officials to crack down on a wave of smash-and-grab raids, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday, a day after she said the pandemic was behind the surge in crime

Thieves caught on camera taking $20,000 of merchandise from California Apple store in broad daylight in November. The store was the latest to be ransacked as LA and Bay Area suffer a string of smash-and-grab raids

Thieves caught on camera taking $20,000 of merchandise from California Apple store in broad daylight in November. The store was the latest to be ransacked as LA and Bay Area suffer a string of smash-and-grab raids

On Thursday, Psaki said:  ‘I think many people have conveyed that and also one of the … root causes of crime in communities is guns and gun violence,’ she said. ‘And we’ve seen that statistically around the country.’

Fox News’ Peter Doocy continued with his line of questioning

He said: ‘So when a huge group of criminals organises themselves and they want to go loot, a store, CVS and Nordstrom a Home Depot until the shelves are clean, you think that’s because of the pandemic?’

Psaki replied: ‘I think a root cause in a lot of communities is the pandemic. Yes.’

The White House and the president have made the same point a number of times this year, suggesting that a surge in violent crime this year was the result of the country reopening.  

In June, Biden said: As we emerge from this pandemic, with the country opening back up again, the traditional summer’s … summer spike may even be more pronounced than it usually would be.’

Psaki’s comments follow a string of reports of attacks on well-known stores and the intervention of former President Trump who hours earlier accused the mainstream media of ignoring the issue.  

Suspects took about $120,000 of merchandise as they smashed their way through a Louis Vuitton store in Oak Brook, Illinois, last month

Suspects took about $120,000 of merchandise as they smashed their way through a Louis Vuitton store in Oak Brook, Illinois, last month

A group of about 40 to 50 teenage shoplifters made off with an unknown amount of jewelry and other items in Hayward, California, last month. Experts and officials say national crime networks are behind many of the 'smash-and-grab ' operations

A group of about 40 to 50 teenage shoplifters made off with an unknown amount of jewelry and other items in Hayward, California, last month. Experts and officials say national crime networks are behind many of the ‘smash-and-grab ‘ operations 

‘You know, the media, outside of you people and a few others, the media isn’t reporting this problem but when you have hoards of people running in, kids mostly, running in and stealing, robbing stores where drug chains are closing all their stores in different cities because they can’t keep them open, we just don’t have law enforcement, we’re not allowed to have law enforcement,’ Trump told Fox & Friends.

But Psaki hinted that part of the blame lay at his door, when she was asked what Biden was doing to take the spike.

‘I would say that one: The President proposed additional funding in his budget over the funding that had been proposed by the prior president to increase and support local police departments, make sure we keep cops on the beat. 

‘The President proposed additional funding in his budget over the funding that had been proposed by the prior precedent to increase in support local, local police departments, make sure we keep cops on the beat.’

California has been worst affected. 

At least 18 people broke into a Nordstrom department store in Los Angeles last week, according to city police. 

And it followed a string of similar incidents in the San Francisco Bay Area, including one in which hammer-wielding thugs smashed cases at a jewelry story in Hayward.

Police in Los Angeles say robberies are up almost four percent on last year’s figures. 

California was hit by a string of robberies last month, including Nancy Pelosi's home town

California was hit by a string of robberies last month, including Nancy Pelosi’s home town

There were 7,386 robberies in Los Angeles this year through November 20, the LAPD’s most recent data, a 3.6% increase from the 7,126 reported the same time last year

There were 7,386 robberies in Los Angeles this year through November 20, the LAPD’s most recent data, a 3.6% increase from the 7,126 reported the same time last year 

Crime experts say stores stocked for Christmas and the low priority that police give to such crime is part of the story. 

Some are skeptical of the role of COVID-19. 

‘This has nothing to do with the pandemic,’ Pete Eliadis, a former law enforcement official and founder of Intelligence Consulting Partners, told CNN.

‘The pandemic is overused at this point.’

And Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, said criminal networks were offering young people up to $1,000 to steal specific merchandise from stores before selling it online. 

‘We´re not talking about someone who needs money or needs food. These are people who go out and do this is for high profit, and for the thrill,’ Dugan said.

They also point to specific factors in California. 

In 2014, the state enacted Proposition 47, a voter-approved ballot measure that barred prosecutors from charging people suspected of certain offenses with felonies, including shoplifting, grand theft, and receiving stolen property.

That meant anyone caught shoplifting items whose value does not exceed $950 would be charged with misdemeanors. Previously, such crimes could be charged as felonies.

Critics said that the measure has encouraged the rampant organized retail theft. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom last month said he would provide extra support in the next state budge to combat retail theft rings. 

‘We need to break up these crime rings, and we need to make an example out of these folks,’ Newsom said. ‘We cannot allow this to continue.’

He also promised extra police patrols for Black Friday, but the robberies continued. 

Trump tears into the media for refusing to cover the nationwide surge in crime and Biden for ‘knowingly destroying our country’ 

Trump tore into the media and Joe Biden on Thursday

Trump tore into the media and Joe Biden on Thursday

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at the mainstream media on Thursday morning, accusing outlets of ignoring a surge in crime cropping up in America’s cities.

Over the last month California has grappled with a troubling wave of smash-and-grab incidents, including in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hometown of San Francisco.

‘You know, the media, outside of you people and a few others, the media isn’t reporting this problem but when you have hoards of people running in, kids mostly, running in and stealing, robbing stores where drug chains are closing all their stores in different cities because they can’t keep them open, we just don’t have law enforcement, we’re not allowed to have law enforcement,’ Trump told Fox & Friends.

During a half-hour interview Trump also claimed President Joe Biden is ‘knowingly destroying our country’ and forcing people out of work with his COVID vaccine mandates.

Co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked the former president about a tweet from the National Fraternal Order of Police claiming that ambush attacks on US police officers rose 126 percent from 2020, when Trump was still president.

‘Well when you look at San Francisco and you look at 100 kids or people running into a store together and the cops are standing out there not allowed to do their job, they aren’t allowed to do their job and you allow a thing like that to happen, we have a country that has no law enforcement, has no law and order,’ Trump fumed.

‘They’re not allowed to do their jobs and they’re now being hit. People aren’t even afraid. They go and shoot police, they don’t respect them.’

There were 7,386 robberies in Los Angeles this year through November 20, the LAPD’s most recent data, a 3.6 percent increase from the 7,386 reported the same time last year.

On Tuesday the Los Angeles Police Department shared footage of a mother and her baby being robbed in the driveway of their mansion in the city’s wealthy Hancock Park area in broad daylight. Video shows the thieves walking past the home’s electronic gates before they could close, backing the woman against the wall of her property, then dashing away with a diaper bag and a cooler.

Also on Tuesday, legendary music executive Clarence Avant’s wife of 54 years, Jacqueline Avant, was killed by gunshot in what police fear may have been a home invasion at their $7 million mansion in Beverly Hills.

Last month, a band of up to 40 thieves stormed a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco, smashing windows and grabbing whatever items were in reach before loading them into cars that were waiting outside. They made off with over $1 million in merchandise.

 


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