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10 charged for alleged participation in SoCal organized retail thefts

Four people were charged Friday in connection with a series of organized smash-and-grab retail thefts in Riverside and Los Angeles counties, while six others were charged with organized retail theft involving a shoe store in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles.

Ziona Janea Famoso, Jordan Harris, Alana Hart, and Jason Jaylom Smith, all 18 years old, were named in a 14-count felony complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Famoso, Harris, Hart and Smith are each facing a charge of organized retail theft.

Famoso and Hart are charged with taking part in an Aug. 1 heist at a Burberry outlet store in Riverside County, making off with nearly $100,000 in merchandise.

Harris and Smith are charged with allegedly carrying out an Aug. 7 armed carjacking in Los Angeles County, with an allegation that Harris used a firearm during the crime.

Famoso and Hart also are accused of taking part in an Aug. 8 smash-and-grab robbery at the Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana at Brand Mall in Glendale, making off with roughly $300,000 in merchandise.

Famoso, Hart and Harris are accused of taking part in an Aug. 12 robbery at the Nordstrom store at the Westfield Topanga Shopping Center, from which more than $350,000 in merchandise was taken.

Among the various charges are burglary, grand theft, vandalism and robbery.

The criminal complaint also alleges that Hart and Smith were out on bail or their own recognizance in previous cases at the time of the alleged crimes.

Meanwhile, six others were charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in connection with alleged incidents of organized retail theft at a Warehouse Shoe Store (WSS). Those suspects were identified as Abraham Olivares, 25; Raul Palazuelos — also known as Raul Perez, 18; Joe Hernandez, 24; Michonna Metcalf, 30; and Henry Thomas and Trista Manuel, both 20.

All six have pleaded not guilty, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Olivares and Palazuelos allegedly took a large amount of merchandise from the shoe store at 6251 York Blvd. without paying for it Tuesday afternoon, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Hernandez’s alleged role was not immediately specified.

The three were arrested that evening by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northwest Division, according to jail records.

Metcalf, Thomas and Manuel allegedly took merchandise from WSS and placed it in bags shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, then drove to the area of 8th and Alvarado streets in downtown Los Angeles, where they were arrested about a half-hour after the alleged theft, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

In a statement announcing the charges against the six, District Attorney George Gascón said, “We will not tolerate the brazen actions of those behind organized retail theft. These crimes harm our community’s sense of security and the vitality of our local businesses. To those contemplating or engaging in these crimes, let me be clear — we are leveraging advanced investigative partnerships to track down and apprehend those responsible.”

He vowed that the Organized Retail Crime Task Force and his office’s Organized Crime Division would “continue to bring those committing these crimes to justice.”

Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement that “organized retail theft harms businesses, retailers and consumers — and puts the public at risk.”

Bonta said that the California Department of Justice and its partners “will continue fighting to keep our communities, businesses and consumers safe from retail theft and other crimes.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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