Smash-and-grab thieves attack stores around the country, California security guard shot dead as crime rages

Smash-and-grab looters targeted stores across the country ahead of Thanksgiving and over Black Friday weekend, robbing stores of thousands of dollars in merchandise and even leaving one California security guard dead as he tried to protect a news crew that was reporting on the crimes.

“We tried to stop them,” Home Depot employee Luis Romo told FOX 11 of a “flash mob” targeting the store in Lakewood, California, on Black Friday. “We closed the front entrance and they put their sledgehammers up and whoever got in the way, they were going to hurt them.”

The group of eight robbers stole hammers, crowbars and other tools, swiping about $400 worth of merchandise. Such tools have been used in other smash-and-grab robberies in the state, including in a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek, California, last week.

The robbers reportedly fled in cars waiting in the parking lot. Police stopped a car with no plates later that night and detained four individuals who may be tied to the robbery.

A group of five suspects stole about $25,000 in expensive purses from a Nordstrom store in the Westfield Topanga mall in Los Angeles on the eve of Thanksgiving. While a large group also entered a Bottega Veneta in the Beverly Grove section of Los Angeles on Friday and used a chemical agent against one person who tried to stop them as they stole high-end merchandise.

By late Friday evening, the Los Angeles Police Department was on a citywide tactical alert. The alert has since been lifted.- READ MORE