A group of at least 17 gangs targeting Los Angeles’ wealthiest are responsible for the city’s recent string of ‘follow-home’ robberies, cops said Tuesday, during a brief discussing the department’s work to put an end to the coordinated strikes.
‘In my 34 years in the LAPD, I have never seen this type of criminal behavior in such large groups coordinating to conduct attacks on unsuspecting citizens to take their property and/or vehicles,’ said Capt. Jonathan Tippet of the attacks, which started in September.
In November, Tippet was tabbed to head a division designed to combat the robberies – Follow Home Robbery Task Force – which has seen armed suspects stalk victims leaving ritzy boutiques, hotels, and restaurants before striking.
The force – which includes 18 detectives – was created on November 23.
Since then, a total of 221 follow-home robberies have been reported – with a further 45 coming before the task force’s creation.
During Tuesday’s brief, Tippet and other cops criticized city laws that saw two suspects the task force has arrested in the past month, amid an uptick in the incidents, put back on the street while awaiting trial days after their offenses.
‘We have seen countless individuals traumatized by having a gun pointed at them and (being) robbed,’ said Tippet during the brief, which was held to brief the civilian Police Commission on the task force’s work since its formation last fall.
A group of at least 17 gangs targeting Los Angeles’ wealthiest are responsible for the city’s recent string of ‘follow-home’ robberies, cops said Tuesday, during a brief discussing the department’s work to put an end to the coordinated strikes. Pictured are assailants accosting a victim in a ‘follow home’ strike in October
‘Many others are dealing with the trauma and injuries from being tackled, kicked, beaten, punched and are pistol whipped to the head.
‘It’s a miracle that more deaths have not occurred,’ the cop added, referring to the two deaths that have come from the more than 100 incidents.
In a four-week period from September to October, Tippet revealed, there were 45 robberies fitting the ‘follow home’ criteria. In November, there were another 39.
At that point, when the number of incidents spiked and celebrities started to fall victim to the incidents – including actor and former BET host Terrence Jenkins and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Dorit Kemsley – officers noticed a pattern and subsequently formed the force, Tippet said.
Durring the brief, Tippet said commonalities between the crimes included the involvement of multiple vehicles and multiple armed suspects coordinating to rob victims possessing high-end vehicles and jewelry, Tippet said.
In many cases, Tippet said, offenders made off with designer handbags, diamond-encrusted watches and other high-priced items – which the cop said perps would then peddle on the black market at a reduced rate.
Since then, the captain said, the task force has made 24 arrests involving 47 robberies, as well as 16 arrests for gun possession and six for attempted murder.
According to Tippet, the department has also arrested four suspects on murder charges in the two homicides it has investigated in relation to the organized attacks.
In that span, the force has also served 278 search warrants, Tippet said, with nearly 200 of them designed to target suspects’ social media accounts – which police say gangbangers likely used to plan the heists – and 35 for homes and 20 for vehicles.
‘In my 34 years in the LAPD, I have never seen this type of criminal behavior in such large groups coordinating to conduct attacks on unsuspecting citizens to take their property and/or vehicles,’ said follow-home task force head Jonathan Tippet of the attacks, which started in September
Pictured are confiscated firearms and drugs obtained from gang members cops say are behind the attacks
Tippet said that in addition to the arrests, the task force’s efforts have so far been largely successful, causing the number of incidents to fall to just 10 last month – a 78% decrease from the 45 seen at the outset of the crime wave.
‘Due to the crisis, we began making arrests as quickly as possible once individuals were identified,’ he said, revealing how the task force amended the department’s usual policy of waiting to identify all involved in a robbery before making arrests
He noted that the tweak was effective in quelling the number of the incidents.
‘This has been a major undertaking, however, I am confident that we are slowing this trend down,’ Tippet told attendees Tuesday.
In its most recent two-week period, ending April 10, just seven follow-home robberies were reported by the LAPD, with the two weeks before that only seeing three follow-home robberies, Tippet said.
However, an uptick in recent weeks that’s seen five robberies fitting the suspects’ MO in the past 48 hours has officers convinced there’s more work to be done – in part because some jailed suspects are getting released and reoffending while awaiting trial due to the city’s lax bail laws.
‘I am absolutely frustrated,’ conceded Tippet, who also oversees the department’s Robbery Homicide Division and said the phenomenon was ‘almost unheard of’ before last year.
The brief from the task force comes as three men in Los Angeles were arrested as suspects in armed follow-home robberies that began in January – including one was involved in eight separate follow-off robberies over a sixth-month period starting last fall, during which he was released seven times due to the city’s lax criminal policies.
Matthew Adams, 18, was arrested for a seventh time in 2022 on March 31, accused of attacking two UCLA students outside one of the university’s dorms, and taking their expensive watches as well as an iPhone, adding up to more than $145,000 in goods, a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) statement confirmed.
Adams also is being linked to at least four other follow-home-style robberies in Hollywood, Burbank and West L.A.
Matthew Adams, 18, was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department on March 31 at a traffic stop. He is being charged with seven counts of robbery and two gun enhancements, according to police, and could face up to more than 20 years in jail if found guilty. He was released from jail four times this year due to the city’s lax bail laws
Another suspect cuffed earlier this month by the force is Cheyenne Hale, 25, who was arrested on suspicion of participating in the armed robbery of a man in downtown L.A. in October in which thieves made off with two watches valued together at roughly $600,000. Court records show he has since been released on bail
Adams is seen as the main suspect of several other robberies taking place all across L.A. with most of them taking place in Hollywood, between January and March of this year. Two robberies were also reported in Burbank and in the neighborhood of West L.A.
The three are accused of identifying victims wearing expensive items and following them from a public location to a more private one, where they’d mug the targets. Ideal spots included upscale restaurants, and clubs in the Hollywood area. Victims would be tracked back to their apartments or hotels, police said.
The two other men, Eric Wilson and Jayon Sparks, also were arrested in connection with the robberies, police said.
LAPD said there might be other unidentified suspects still at large, according to Fox 11.
In one of the robberies, Adams and an unidentified accomplice followed two tourists from a nightclub to their hotel. Once they made it back and headed to their rooms, Adams and the other suspect robbed them of high-priced watches and other belongings.
LAPD officers arrested and booked Wilson and Sparks on March 24 after Metropolitan Division Officers obtained a warrant to search their apartment. Inside, they found firearms, drugs, ammo and luxury stolen items, including watches, jewelry and cash, according to the LAPD.
Subsequently, Wilson also was charged with one count of possession of a firearm, and Sparks was charged with two counts of robbery and one count of possession of a firearm, the LAPD confirmed.
Eric Wilson (left) and Jayson Sparks (right) were accomplices of Adams although it remains unknown how many robberies they were involved in between January and March of this year. Both were arrested on March 24 and charged on possession of a firearm
LAPD found luxury watches, jewelry, phones, drugs, cash and more inside the apartment of Wilson and Sparks upon their arrest on March 24
Adams was arrested on March 31 – a week after Wilson and Sparks’ arrest – during a traffic stop.
He was booked into jail and charged April 4 with one felony count of first-degree residential robbery and six counts of second-degree robbery. LAPD also charged him with two gun enhancements, for all the robberies that he has been involved in between January 7 and March 30, police said.
If found guilty of all nine charges, the 18-year-old suspect faces more than 20 years in prison, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
Adams’ latest arrest comes after he was previously detained on January 9, January 27 and February 21. He was booked into jail each time, but always released shortly afterwards.
Prior to his first arrest, Adams was accused in a high-end jewelry store robbery on January 7. He was placed on bond before his release. A group of at least five other men also were involved in the robbery. It’s unclear if Wilson and Sparks were part of it.
A group of five is seen on video with what police say appeared to be sledgehammers, obliterating the front window of the store. Adams was involved in the robbery but it is unsure if Wilson and Sparks were too
Adams, Sparks and Wilson would follow victims to their homes or to isolated areas before mugging their watches, cash or any jewelry that they would carry
Adams was then arrested and charged with carrying a hidden firearm on January 27. He was released shortly afterwards.
A little less than a month later, Adams was arrested once more for the same offense – carrying a concealed weapon – before being released.
Adams, who could not be reached for comment, has since been arrested a fourth time, police records show, on charges stemming from seven robberies, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The city’s public defender’s office, which represented the suspect during his arraignment, declined to comment on the case. Adams remains in custody as of Wednesday morning, court records show.
On Tuesday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who announced the formation of the ‘follow-home’ task force in November, said Tuesday he was ‘disappointed’ that ‘the full weight of our existing laws’ was not used against Adams -not only to hold him accountable for his crimes, but to deter others who may see the crime wave as an opportunity to engage in their own crimes.
Moore described the city’s repeated releases of Adams as a risk to public safety, and asserted that suspects who are repeatedly arrested for gun violence should not be let out pending trial.
The head cop also labeled prosecutors partially responsible for his crimes by not seeking certain charging enhancements against Adams that might have kept him locked up.
Another suspect cuffed earlier this month by the force is Cheyenne Hale, 25, who was arrested on suspicion of participating in the armed robbery of a man in downtown L.A. in October in which thieves made off with two watches valued together at roughly $600,000.
Police said they recovered a loaded gun from Hale during his arrest and that cops in Tippet’s unit later found seven additional guns, $21,000 in cash, and ‘a large quantity of drugs’ including cocaine and methamphetamine when they searched his home.
Court records show that Hale has also since been released from custody.
‘This revolving-door criminal justice system that we have right now clearly is not working and is endangering the citizens of Los Angeles and is creating a public safety crisis,’ Police Commission President William Briggs said of the city’s treatment of the suspects.
‘We need to find a solution.’
New criminal policies, which include lenient jail time rules, were set into motion by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon for the past two years. The new rules allow repeated offenders to be released back into society without facing severe or lengthy punishment for their crimes.
The lax bail laws also caused a rift between LAPD Chief Michael Moore and Gascon. Moore has repeatedly shifted the blame of the city’s high crime rate to the district attorney.
‘Today, we see that the use of enhancements has been sharply curtailed,’ the Los Angeles chief said during a Police Commission meeting on Tuesday. ‘I believe that’s inconsistent with the underlying importance of those enhancements as to deterring others from being engaged in serious violent felonies with the use of a firearm.’
‘While I appreciate the filings that have been obtained, I’m disappointed that the full weight of the existing laws and the support of our district attorney and the court to hold this individual responsible and accountable and keep him from the community was missed,’ Moore added.
In the last year, violent robberies and smash-and-grab thefts have skyrocketed in Los Angeles. Robberies are up nearly 18 percent in the year-to-date compared to 2021, while those involving a firearm have surged by nearly 50 percent in the same time period
Gascon, who has been widely criticized as being soft on crime, later backtracked on some of his most controversial policies, including not pursuing sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, and not prosecuting juveniles accused of serious offenses as adults.
His sudden change of heart comes as he faces a second recall effort organized by critics, who contend that his woke policies are to blame for Los Angeles’ rising crime rates.
In the last year, violent robberies and smash-and-grab thefts have skyrocketed in Los Angeles. Robberies are up nearly 18 percent in the year-to-date compared to 2021, while those involving a firearm have surged by nearly 50 percent in the same time period.
Assaults are also up marginally, by 4.4 percent, with violent crimes overall up seven percent, statistics from the LAPD reveal.
Many residents blame the city’s no-or-low-cash bail policies introduced by the woke D.A. George Gascón, who came into office in 2020
Violent crimes have skyrocketed in Los Angeles in the last year, of which LAPD chief Michael Moore (pictured) has blamed Gascon for