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LA County Sheriff Organized Retail Crime Task Force major fencing operation bust

LA County Sheriff Organized Retail Crime Task Force major fencing operation bust
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Fox News embedded with the LA County Sheriff Department’s Organized Retail Theft Crime Task Force during a major fencing bust in what appeared to be a shopping center in a crime-ridden area near downtown Los Angeles. 

The location was actually a hidden storefront for a retail crime ring. Dozens of LA County Sheriff’s deputies swarmed the area, detaining several people including a man they believe was helping run the operation.

Investigators are still sorting through the vast amount of store products found during this fencing bust. Once finished, they believe they will have recovered more than $500M in stolen merchandise from a variety of retailers, including Nordstrom, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Sephora, Nordstrom and Food 4 Less.


We watched deputies carry heavy containers from the hidden storefront, full of items – from hygiene products and clothes to kitchen appliances. Captain Robert Peacock commented on the rampant smash and grab crimes in California. He said, “Sometimes with the retailers, it happens so often they can’t keep up with it, and they don’t report it, so it’s an easy crime to get away with it.” 

Capt. Peacock also said, “There are a lot of things stacked against us. In California, I think people tend to think that the laws are soft when it comes to this type of crime, and they’re probably right, so we have some work to do with legislation and get some of the laws changed.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff, Robert Luna, speaks during a press conference to announce new efforts to curb recent retail thefts, at City Hall in Los Angeles, California, on August 17, 2023. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

There is now a bipartisan effort to change Proposition 47. It’s a criminal justice reform measure which lowered the penalties for many theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Critics of the policy have long said the voter-approved measure is leading to thieves believing they can commit theft crimes without facing any consequences. In the meantime, retail theft remains a big problem in California. 


LAPD says shoplifting rates jumped 80 percent from 2022 to 2023. The LA County Sheriff’s Department augmented the Burglary Robbery Task Force in October by adding additional resources from various stations to create 3 teams to work through this area. The new task force is now called the Organized Retail Task Force. 

The sheriff’s department says, “These new teams are allowing us to increase the case load, conduct more surveillance operations, arrest the growing number of suspects involved in retail crimes, after-hours responses, weekend call-outs, and conduct “blitz.” 

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 17: Deputy Chief LAPD Kris Pitcher, left, and LA County Sheriff Robert Luna, at press conference held to announce formation of a task force to investigate, apprehend and prosecute suspects who have committed retail thefts smash-and-grabs in recent weeks, held at City Hall in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The task force also works closely with the LAPD and CHP Task Forces to combat the organized retail crime.  Since October, the task force has conducted multiple operations. 

A department spokesperson says, “Since inception of our task force, we have 555 felony and 72 misdemeanor cases.”


“We have arrested a total of 546 suspects related to retail theft crimes, served 334 warrants, recovered 48 firearms, and recovered over $8,260,000 worth of stolen merchandise. “

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