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LAPD forms task force to stem trend of follow-home robberies

Investigators have spotted a trend in people wearing flashy jewelry or driving expensive cars are followed and then robbed, police say

Los Angeles police are forming a task force to buck a new trend of what they describe as follow-home robberies, in which people who are wearing flashy jewelry or driving expensive cars are followed before they are accosted.

“In this trend, detectives noted that the victims were being followed from such places as Melrose Avenue, the Jewelry District of Los Angeles, and high-end restaurants and nightclubs from Hollywood and Wilshire Divisions,” police said Tuesday in a statement. Suspects wait to confront their tracked victims when they are in isolated areas or have returned home, police said.

The Follow Home Task Force will comprise 20 detectives from the police department’s Robbery-Homicide Division and from other divisions, police said.

The objective is to identify robbers and their “associated crews,” police said.

A homicide in the police department’s Hollywood Division on Tuesday began as a follow-home robbery, officials said.

“We’ve actually seen what we believe this morning is related to this, with this murder in Hollywood outside a restaurant,” Police Chief Michel Moore told reporters later Tuesday. “A practice of individuals that are copy-catting a technique of targeting the individuals with high-value jewelry, high-value cars, to follow them off or to confront them as they exit ... high-end retailers and restaurants for the street robbery.”

Moore said a 23-year-old man died after he was shot as he tried to help a woman he was with after multiple people accosted her.

In a statement Nov. 12, police said there had been more than 110 incidents labeled as follow-home robberies this year. Investigators identified “at least six different LA street gangs” affiliated with the technique, police said.

“It is our opinion that these crimes are all a trend, similar to the trend experienced a year or two ago with the ‘knock-knock’ burglaries in which different crews/gangs participated in the same type of residential burglary,” police said.

A police spokesperson could not be immediately reached Wednesday to get updated figures on follow-home robberies and overall robberies or updates about Tuesday’s slaying in Hollywood.

NBC Los Angeles reported that Tuesday’s homicide occurred on Sunset Boulevard outside the Bossa Nova Restaurant. The couple who were confronted arrived in a Mercedes SUV, the station reported.

Moore said that the robberies are more violent than in the recent past and that criminals are armed more often, NBC Los Angeles reported in a separate story.

Robberies were up by 3.2 percent this year compared to last year in the police department’s jurisdiction, but they were down compared to 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported.