In a continuation of an alarming trend in Los Angeles, four men visiting from Northern California were followed to an Airbnb on Coldwater Canyon Drive and robbed at gunpoint. Suspects made off with goods and cash worth an estimated $20,000, according to police.
The four victims were visiting Los Angeles for a birthday celebration and staying at an Airbnb rental property. They left a restaurant around 1:30 a.m. in the Beverly Grove area and told police they felt they were being followed.
They say they spotted a luxury SUV following them and didn’t go directly to their rental property. Instead, they drove until they said they lost the SUV following them, then returned to the Airbnb.
However, when the victims parked their car in the driveway and got out, they say they were robbed by three suspects armed with guns. The suspects stole the property they had on them in the driveway and proceeded to take the four men into the home at gunpoint.
The incident represents yet another data point in the trend of so-called follow-home or follow-off robberies targeting wealthy Angelenos. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) reported a total of 221 follow-home robberies up to April 11.
Law enforcement took notice of the trend in early 2021, noting that victims were regularly followed from locations frequented by high net worth-individuals, such as Melrose Avenue, the Jewelry District, and high-end restaurants and nightclubs. LAPD claimed that suspects targeted victims based on their jewelry or cars.
LAPD Captain John Tippet, the commanding officer of the Robbery-Homicide Division and head of the Follow Home Task Force, told the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners on April 12 that “this is a phenomenon that, prior to last year, was almost unheard of.”
“In the month[s] of September and October, we monitored a pattern of increased robberies that included multiple vehicles and multiple armed suspects working in a coordinated effort to rob victims of their high-end cars and or jewelry,” Tippet said. “In my 34 years in the LAPD, I had never seen this type of criminal behavior in such large groups coordinating to conduct attacks on unsuspecting citizens to take their property and/or vehicles.”
Following the formation of the task force in November, LAPD began making arrests. As of April 12, the task force had made four murder arrests, six attempted murder arrests, and 24 robbery arrests involving 47 robberies.
Tippet said the task force has identified 17 gangs involved in the surge of robberies, though he could not say how many incidents had connections to specific gangs.
Data presented by the task force showed a steep decline in follow-home robberies since its formation. During a four-week period from October to November, LAPD reported 45 incidents. That, compared to just 10 incidents during a four-week period in March, is a decline of 78%.