Smash-and-Grabs, Stickups and Hate Flyers: BHPD Responds

In a city known worldwide for its quiet streets and luxury shopping, the last two weeks have been busy for the Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD). A recent spate of crime has included smash-and-grab retail burglaries, armed robberies and the distribution of antisemitic flyers. The BHPD told the Courier it is responding with increased patrols and heightened awareness.

“We monitor whatever is going on around us and we react appropriately from a preparation stance,” BHPD Lt. Giovani Trejo told the Courier. “We will always make sure our business district is safe and protected and we react to those threats as they happen, and also trends. As [incidents] increase, we increase patrolling and we have also increased private security patrols as well.”

When it was discovered that shop windows had been smashed overnight Nov. 20-21 at Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue, the crimes appeared to mirror a statewide trend. Similar actions occurred in smash-and-grabs that same weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in California. Since then a wave of similar incidents have swept the country with smash-and-grabs in Chicago, Minnesota and even Canada.

For its part, the BHPD made arrests in connection with a “flash-mob” robbery committed at a Lakewood Home Depot on Nov. 26. A group of six suspicious vehicles driving through the Beverly Hills Business Triangle was reported on Nov. 27. BHPD responded, stopping two of the vehicles, one of which matched a description of a suspect vehicle connected to the Home Depot robbery. Tools suspected by police to have been stolen from the big-box hardware store were found in the vehicles. Four arrests were made and suspects were taken into custody by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

A string of back-to-back armed robberies was also reported in Beverly Hills Nov. 22-23. A double-robbery was reported on the night of Nov. 22 near Charleville Boulevard. BHPD later tracked an SUV matching a description of the vehicle driven by the suspects in both of the Charleville robberies. Police arrested the two vehicle occupants with help from the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office told the Courier it has filed charges of second degree robbery and brandishing an imitation firearm against an LA resident in connection with the Nov. 22 robbery. 

On Nov. 23 a robbery was reported around 4 p.m. on Beverly Boulevard near Doheny Drive. The suspects were reported to have fled the scene on foot, but BHPD set up a containment operation and made three arrests later that day. Two of the suspects were found in possession of loaded handguns. The District Attorney has filed charges in that case for attempted second degree robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. 

In a separate incident, a strong arm robbery against a 13 year old boy and his friend on Oakhurst Drive was reported Nov. 30. The boy’s mother Joanne Gruber told the Courier that the robbers threatened to kill the two boys if they did not hand over their eclectic skateboard and bicycle. The boys complied and were not physically harmed. The suspects fled on foot, according to the victim.

“The one guy said something like, ‘Give me your skateboard and if you don’t give it to me I’m gonna kill you and if you call the police I’m gonna kill you,'” Gruber said, relaying the story her son told her. “I think it was just bad timing. They just happened to be walking by, you know?”

BHPD arrived at the scene in less than five minutes after she reported the robbery, Gruber said.

“I literally don’t know what to say,” she added about the robbery. “I just have a feeling in my gut that they were never going to hurt the boys.”

Police did not immediately respond to Courier requests for information on the Oakhurst Drive robbery.

In another incident, a routine traffic stop turned into an hours-long manhunt on Nov. 30 after a suspect allegedly reversed his car into a BHPD cruiser. According to Trejo, a BHPD officer pulled over a silver Kia near the intersection of South Santa Monica Boulevard and Rodeo Drive for a vehicle code violation.

“While the officer was standing with one foot on the ground and the other foot inside the police vehicle, the silver Kia reversed and struck the police cruiser, and fled westbound on South Santa Monica Boulevard at a high rate of speed with the officer giving chase,” Trejo said.

While Trejo did not specify the violation that precipitated the stop, business-owner and resident Tara Riceberg had a front row view to the incident, she told the Courier, which she described as a “routine traffic stop.” Riceberg said she was at the intersection when a silver Kia attempted to make a left turn as soon as the light turned green.

“The oncoming southbound traffic thankfully stopped before hitting him,” she said. “The driver then reversed out of the way to let southbound traffic pass before making the left onto little Santa Monica.”

A BHPD patrol car with a view of the maneuver then pulled the vehicle over before striking the police cruiser.

The driver led police on a “short vehicle pursuit” before abandoning his car in an alley west of Linden Drive and north of Charleville Boulevard. For hours afterwards, police formed a containment perimeter and searched for the suspect. As helicopters hovered overhead, nearby residents were instructed to shelter in place.

Police discovered the suspect and also found two handguns within the containment, although Trejo did not state whether the handguns are believed to belong to the suspect.

“It is unknown at this time if this suspect is connected to any other crimes in Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills Police detectives will be conducting follow-up investigation,” Trejo said.

Although not involving violence, an equally disturbing incident took place last weekend. Some Beverly Hills residents were alarmed to find antisemitic flyers in their yards on the first day of Hanukkah, Nov. 28. Fliers inside plastic bags weighted with rice were reportedly thrown into the yards of several homes in the northern part of the city. The message included antisemitic conspiracy theories about COVID-19. BHPD and Beverly Hills Public Works staff canvassed the area and collected many of the fliers before they were discovered by more residents, police said.

BHPD told the Courier that no suspects have been identified and the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“Police are continuing to investigate and attempt to identify the persons responsible for this disturbing act,” said BHPD in a statement on social media.  

President Joe Biden mentioned the hate fliers in a speech during a White House menorah lighting ceremony Dec. 1 in which he discussed the rise in antisemitism.

“All it takes is an opening, a sliver, a crack, or the briefest nod of acceptance or legitimacy for ancient evils that have long plagued our society to come rushing in,” said Biden. “We just saw an incident of some horribly antisemitic fliers being left at people’s homes in Los Angeles. We have to stand against the resurgence and this tide of antisemitism and other forms of intolerance and hate here at home and around the world.”

Additional reporting by Samuel Braslow 

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