“Street takeovers” are becoming quite common in Los Angeles and big cities. A mob of people and cars, responding to a prompt on social media, show up at an intersection and raise holy hell. Police try to break it up but are usually far too late.
Such was the case on August 15 when a flash mob showed up at Figueroa Street and El Segundo Boulevard. After a few minutes of causing mayhem on the streets, they moved into a 7-Eleven store like a swarm of locusts. They picked it clean of anything of value in a matter of minutes.
“Cars were just going everywhere,” said neighbor Lisa Trafton. “And then I looked into the store because I wanted to get a pop and the store’s totally trashed.”
Security video released by the LAPD shows dozens of people streaming into the store. At first, many people appeared to be simply shopping for snacks, but suddenly others started running in, ransacking shelves and jumping the counter to grab items behind the register. Candy, chips, and drinks were left strewn all over the store, and a cash register was destroyed, but it’s not clear if any money was taken.
“Angry mob mentality inside the store,” said Det. Ryan Moreno. “They started ransacking the place, taking food, cigarettes, lottery tickets — tried to get the cashier’s box.”
It’s unknown if any cash was taken. The lone store employee, while harassed and threatened, emerged unharmed.
Police said they will start confiscating cars of both drivers and spectators at street takeovers in the future.
“If they’re going to start doing this kind of stuff, inconveniencing people, locking up freeways and taking over freeways, cars are going to start disappearing real soon,” Moreno said.
People in the area said they have been seeing businesses disappearing lately and fear more investments may go away, if the bad behavior continues.
“We’re losing a lot of stuff and we’re not going to have the resources,” said Compton resident Kevin Hosley. “People are going to pull out of us. A lot of us can’t afford to move to $700,000 homes. We’re stuck. We got to live in it but people don’t want to take care of what we got.”
Obviously, the last thing the police want is for this kind of thing to become a trend — the next big thing on social media. But it’s hard to see how they can stop it. Confiscating cars of violators is a good start, but most of the looters were on foot or passengers.
Until the looters are deterred by a justice system that takes property crime seriously, this lawlessness will continue—and get worse. As it stands now, they’re laughing at the justice system, knowing they can act with impunity and, at worse, get a slap on the wrist.