LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Criminals are targeting people for their valuables, from smartphones to French bulldogs to high-end watches, across the Los Angeles area.
This year, 18 armed robberies have happened where victims were shot; two cases were fatal. It’s enough for police to call it a “disturbing trend.”
In a brazen case Friday, late lunch diners ran for their lives as bullets flew at the famed Il Pastaio Restaurant in Beverly Hills.
According to the Beverly Hills Police Department, three young men in hoodies targeted a diner wearing a watch, believed to be a Richard Mille, valued at around $400,000.
“The motive was robbery; there was a watch that was taken from one of the victims. It is a very high-end watch. That is also playing into our investigation,” said BPD Capt. Max Subin.
The victim and his friends fought back; then gunfire erupted.
A 33-year-old woman suffered a graze wound. Police are still searching for the suspects.
Officials also investigating a case that happened last month, where a 26-year-old man was shot after being ambushed as he left a jewelry store in Downtown Los Angeles. The incident was captured on surveillance video, and the victim is seen tossing what appears to be the gunman’s weapon. Police say up to four suspects drove off in a Chrysler 300.
Authorities are also searching for the suspects who assaulted a man and stole his Rolex watch on January 30. That incident was not far from another high-profile robbery that happened last week.
Lady Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was shot multiple times, and two of the singer’s French bulldogs were stolen last Wednesday.
Fischer is recovering and the bulldogs have since been found but police are still searching for the suspects.
Darrin Porcher, a crime analyst, said the pandemic has robbers more desperate, and they are likely more brazen due to so many unsolved cases.
“The pendulum has now shifted into the more affluent areas; when we look in relation to what happened to Lady Gaga’s dog walker and recently what happened in Beverly Hills,” Porcher said. “This should not be an easy crime. However, unfortunately, you have criminals who are functioning with an air of impunity. That being said, the social context on how criminals perceive their ability to commit crime has somewhat escalated.”
Multiple armed robberies have involved jewelry and Rolex watches, with victims followed from restaurants or stores and then attacked at gunpoint in isolated areas.
Authorities say heightened awareness is key.