A Los Angeles theft team that targeted Prada, Versace, Gucci and other luxury stores across California was arrested by an LAPD task force and charged with 27 felonies, the state attorney general announced Tuesday.

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said the trio is accused of stealing more than $300,000 worth of merchandise in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and San Diego. Bonta said the crew’s ringleader faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges related to robberies from December 2022 to last month.

“To be clear, this is not about a few one-off cases of a Louis Vuitton wallet being stolen or a pair of Prada sunglasses being stolen. This was organized. These were organized break-ins and attempted break-ins in which suspects tore bags from displays, even when the products were secured to the displays with locks,” Bonta said in a speech at LAPD headquarters.

Workers at Burberry, Prada, Sunglass Hut, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Michael Kors, Gucci, Coach, Versace and Maison Margiela were put in danger by the bandits, who allegedly pushed aside store workers while stealing designer clothes and accessories, he said .

“These are not victimless crimes,” Bonta said, claiming the suspects sometimes used violence against workers as they ran from a store. “At another time, they flooded the stores with large numbers of people in disguise who brazenly looted high-quality products,” he added. “If you steal from our businesses and put people in harm’s way, if you try to make easy money off of other people’s hard work, we will prosecute that like we did today.”

Bonta said the Retail Theft Task Force organized by the Los Angeles Police Department identified the crew behind the robbery and raids in six counties. The charge carries the possibility of decades in prison, he said, which should send a message to others who commit or are considering such crimes.

A series of flash mob robberies of luxury goods stores around Los Angeles last summer drew national attention, with video clips showing the group running out of business. Mayor Karen Bass responded by announcing a new task force to combat the perpetrators.

LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said two of the three members were arrested by the task force, while a third was already in custody. Although they were charged with stealing $300,000 worth of merchandise in six counties, the evidence suggests the crew may have stolen more than $900,000 worth of merchandise, Hamilton said.

Isaiah Abdullah, Ishmael Baptist and Nickolas Mallory are accused of stealing from two or more of the most well-known designer stores in order to sell something. All three have been convicted of multiple crimes, including robbery.

The raid began Dec. 12 when authorities alleged Abdullah stole nearly $3,000 worth of Burberry items from an Orange County store. According to the indictments, their biggest hit was at Louis Vitton in San Diego County, where Abdullah and Mallory were accused of stealing more than $33,000 worth of merchandise.

Bonta said that within a day or two of the raid, the suspects would sell the stolen designer goods “through Instagram stories – that was their chosen platform for resale.”

Two of the thefts involved such violence that prosecutors charged Abdullah and Mallory with robbery in connection with an incident last October and Abdullah with robbery in connection with another incident in January.

Hamilton and Bonta said that while no firearms were used in the crimes, a total of five firearms were recovered during searches of locations associated with the suspects; One of the weapons was a fully automatic Glock pistol. One of the seized firearms also led to an indictment in a separate criminal case.

Hamilton said the task force has many other ongoing cases in the works. Hamilton rejected a reporter’s assertion that the department was being cautious about retail thefts, saying there would be more arrests, more crimes and some suspects being held on very high bail amounts, like the suspects in this case where the bail was up Set at $1 million.

Bonta also bristled at the narrative that criminal justice reforms like Proposition 47, which made stealing goods worth less than $950 a misdemeanor, had encouraged predatory thieves. The crimes charged in this case were not misdemeanors, Bonta said, and the value of the stolen goods was well above the misdemeanor threshold, meaning Proposition 47 had nothing to do with it.

“We do not turn a blind eye to these criminal activities, whether it involves the theft of goods worth hundreds of thousands or sometimes millions of dollars,” Bonta said. “They are disrupting our economy and endangering the public. They are putting workers at risk.”

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