The Los Angeles Police Department issued a warning Tuesday that criminals are targeting people wearing expensive jewelry as a wave of robberies hit the city.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said the public needs to be “vigilant” and be wary of wearing expensive jewelry after an increase in armed robberies plague the area, reported Fox LA.
#BREAKING #BeverlyHills: Owner of Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills tells me the smash and grabbers got away with 3 to 5 million in stolen watches and necklaces pic.twitter.com/3W4zsaVXjX
— Robert Kovacik (@RobertNBCLA) March 22, 2022
“What we’re asking the public to do with these crime increases is if they’re going to wear expensive jewelry or drive high-end cars, when leaving restaurants, taverns and other locations, they need to be mindful of their surroundings, and be in well-lit areas,” said Moore at the Los Angeles Police Commission meeting reported Fox.
Moore said residents need to “recognize there are opportunists that are willing to take advantage of them and many times, these individuals are armed with firearms,” reported the outlet.
The announcement came after five armed suspects broke the front window of Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills at 2 p.m. Tuesday, taking off with roughly $5 million worth of jewelry, including a necklace worth close to $500,000, reported ABC.
The Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills owner, Peter Sedghi, told the AP that he thought the men were shooting in his store and told his staff to take cover while he grabbed his gun and hit the panic button.
“I yelled at my staff, ‘Everyone get on the floor, get on the floor, Sedghi told the AP. “We’re in the heart of Beverly Hills. Who thought this would happen in broad daylight? Beverly Hills is supposed to be a safe area. You should be able to walk around wearing whatever jewelry you want.”
The owner of the neighboring jewelry store, Wesley Aframian, told ABC he heard the suspects breaking the window of his friend’s shop and rushed over to help.
“I look outside, I see, there are five guys with sledgehammers, axes, hammers, they’re banging on the window,” Aframian told ABC. “And you know, we’re a jewelry store, they’re a jewelry store. We’re good friends with them. They’re very good people. I just reacted and tried to stop them.”
“I have one a nice kick, he lost his balance, he was falling over, and he started running,” he added. “I pushed him on the street. He dropped a couple of the watches I was able to recover.”
At the Los Angeles Police Commission meeting, Chief Moore said 36% of all robberies in the city happen with a firearm, and these crimes account for 74% of the city’s total robbery increase. (RELATED: New Poll Signals Trouble For California Gov. Gavin Newsom)
Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook released a statement acknowledging the community’s frustration with the rising crime.
“The Chief is willing to discuss with any person or group the reality of the current regional crime situation,” the statement read. “Immediately, BHPD is adding a camera trailer, extra security patrols, and extra special watch from officers to South Beverly Dr. The Beverly Hills Police Department continues to hire new officers and engage new technologies to keep the City safe. The City and Department also need the help of the District Attorney’s Office and our State Legislators.”
Democratic California Lt. Gov. Giovanni Trejo responded to the increased armed robberies in the area in an email to the AP. “The choice to wear expensive jewelry is ultimately theirs,” Trejo told the AP.