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Crime & Safety

Thieves Smash Glass at Beverly Hills Saks in Dramatic Robbery

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BEVERLY HILLS — Thieves hit two Beverly Hills department stores on Wilshire Boulevard Saturday. A witness inside Saks Fifth Avenue said that the suspects smashed glass and sent customers fleeing from the store.

It appears that three of the four suspects got away at Saks, despite streets being closed for hours while police searched. There was also a theft nearby, around the same time, at Neiman Marcus. Police determined the incidents were unrelated, according to ABC7.

About $40,000 worth of purses were taken, said police.

The incident happened around 2:20pm on Saturday. ABC7 said about $40,000 in merchandise was stolen from Saks, according to the police department.

Mike Bayer, a resident of West Hollywood, was inside the store and watched the dramatic events unfold. He reported that he “was shopping for a friends birthday gift at Saks in Beverly Hills and someone pulled out a gun.” The bandits “shattered the glass and police are everywhere.”

“I’m fine. Not sure if anyone was hurt,” he continued. “A flood of people were screaming and running out the store. Was pretty scary.”

ABC7 has had changing information on the crimes. Their latest reports says a press release from the Beverly Hills Police Department said there were four male suspects, and one juvenile was arrested, believed to have been one of the four involved in the Saks incident. An earlier report said that there had been an arrest in the Neiman Marcus incident.

BHPD had a perimeter setup for a few hours while they searched for other suspects. No word on why they believed them to still be in the area. They closed down the search around 5PM.

The alert from the Beverly Hills Police Department around 3:30PM reported, “Beverly Hills PD is conducting an investigation in the area of Charleville Boulevard and Gregory Way between Camden Drive and Peck Drive. Please avoid the area as the streets are currently closed.”

CNS News reported that purses were the main item stolen at Saks, according to Beverly Hills police Sgt. J. Dufour. He also said that around the same time, there was a report that thieves “went inside and took property” at the Neiman Marcus store at 9700 Wilshire Boulevard.

The CNS report said the police were investigating if the incidents were related, however ABC7 said that the police had determined that they were not.

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Lawsuits

Bev Hills Police Chief to Retire Amid Discrimination Lawsuits

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Bev Hills Police Chief to Retire Amid Discrimination Lawsuits

BEVERLY HILLS — Beverly Hills City Manager George Chavez announced that Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli will retire from the department, effective May 15, 2020.

NBC LA cites “several law enforcement and other sources” as saying that Spagnoli was notified “she had until Friday, April 24, to resign or face possible termination.”

Spagnoli joined BHPD in February of 2016 from the City of San Leandro in Northern California where she served as Chief since 2011.  She has been accused in multiple lawsuits of using slurs and making remarks about Jews, employees who were LGBTQ and people of color. NBCLA reports on allegations of promoting mostly white men and having sexual contact with employees.

“During the Chief’s tenure, crime was reduced while the department increased diversity, public outreach, best practices and advancements in technology,” said Chavez.  “We thank Chief Spagnoli for her service to our community and her three decades of public service in law enforcement.”

“I am grateful to have served Beverly Hills and proud of the accomplishments over the past 4 years to keep this world-class community one of the safest in the nation,” said Chief Spagnoli.

Chavez is expected to name an Interim Police Chief in the coming weeks. 

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Crime Blotter

WeHo Sheriff Crime Report – April 6 to 19, 2020

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West Hollywood Sheriff's Station Sign (Michael Dorausch/Flickr)

April 6th
Aggravated Assault – Other Weapon (Suspect Arrested)
Olive Drive / Santa Monica Blvd
04/06/2020 @ 1200. A man kicked the victim on his shoulder and stomped on his leg. The suspect also hit the victim with a wooden stick. The suspect was arrested by responding deputies. #01753

April 7th
Strong Arm Robbery
900 block Hammond Street
04/07/2020 @ 0010. A man pushed a woman and took her phone during an argument in the parking lot of the hotel. #01760

Vehicle Burglary
1100 block Clark Street
04/07/2020 @ 1900-1800. An unknown suspect removed registration paperwork from the glove box and a hair dryer from the trunk. No sign of forced entry. #01784

April 8th
Other Burglary
8200 block Santa Monica Blvd
04/08/2020 @ 0408. A man cut the security gate and smashed the front glass door but was scared away by an audible alarm. #01805

Strong Arm Robbery
1000 block N La Brea Avenue
04/08/2020 @ 1550. A man pulled a cell phone from the hands of an employee and ran from the store without payment. #01780

April 9th
Other Burglary (Suspect Arrested)
1000 block Spaulding Avenue
04/09/2020 @ 2200. A woman removed a window screen to gain access and removed credit cards, keys, and tools. The suspect was arrested by responding deputies. #01802

April 10th
Residential Burglary
7100 block Santa Monica Blvd
04/10/2020 @ 0930-1300. An unknown suspect removed a purse and cosmetics from the bathroom. No sign of forced entry. #01808

April 11th
Nothing significant to report.

April 12th
Aggravated Assault – Hands, Fist, Feet (Suspect Arrested)
800 block Palm Avenue
04/12/2020 @ 2215. A man punched and body slammed his roommate during an argument while inside of the residence. The suspect was arrested by responding deputies. #01821

April 13th
Grand Theft
8200 block Santa Monica Blvd
04/13/2020 @ 1030. A man removed a mountain bike and left the store without payment. #01837

April 14th
Grand Theft
1100 block Ogden Drive
04/14/2020 @ 2000-1300. An unknown suspect cut the lock and removed a mountain bike from the unsecured sub parking garage. #01900

Armed Carjacking (Suspects Arrested)
8600 block Rugby Drive
04/14/2020 @ 1515. A woman was sitting in her car when a man approached while armed with a handgun and told her to the exit the vehicle. The victim ran from the car and the suspect tried to steal the vehicle but the keys were with the victim. Another man acted as a lookout and pointed a handgun at a pedestrian that walked up as the incident was occurring. The suspects ran to a nearby vehicle and fled the area. Three suspects were arrested by responding deputies and a replica handgun was recovered. #01856

April 15th
Nothing significant to report.

April 16th
Other Burglary
8400 block Santa Monica Blvd
04/16/2020 – 04/18/2020. An unknown suspect smashed the front door to gain entry and ransacked a storage shed. The victim was unsure if any property was taken. #01894

Vehicle Burglary
1100 block Sherbourne Drive
04/16/2020 @ 2300-1600. An unknown suspect smashed the rear windshield and removed sunglasses and a key fob from the center console. #01887

Vehicle Burglary
8200 block Santa Monica Blvd
04/16/2020 @ 2000-2041. An unknown suspect forced a partially open window down and removed a backpack containing a camera, taser, cell phone, radio, $800 cash, flashlight, and credit cards from the front floorboard. #01883

April 17th
Vehicle Burglary
1200 block Genesee Avenue
04/17/2020 @ 1700-1300. An unknown suspect removed paperwork from the glove box. No sign of forced entry. #01925


Vehicle Burglary
7700 block Lexington Avenue
04/17/2020 @ 0900-1100. An unknown suspect removed a laptop computer from the rear floorboard. No sign of forced entry. #01942

April 18th
Other Burglary
8200 block Santa Monica Blvd
04/18/2020 @ 0333. A man jumped the perimeter fence and gained access to the bar area. The suspect removed an air compressor and paint gun. #01906

April 19th
Nothing significant to report.

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Sexual Assault

‘Involuntary Celibate’ Arrested on Cyberstalking Charges

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LOS ANGELES — Special agents with the FBI this morning arrested a San Gabriel Valley man and online promoter of the involuntary celibate (incel) subculture on a federal cyberstalking charge that he conducted an internet harassment campaign against two teenage girls who rejected his sexual advances.

Carl Bennington, 33, was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint unsealed today in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Bennington will remain in federal custody pending the outcome of detention hearing scheduled for Thursday. His arraignment is scheduled for May 11.

The complaint alleges that, from at least February 2016 to March 2020, Bennington repeatedly used various social media accounts to harass young girls and women, including by sending hundreds of messages threatening to commit acts of physical and sexual violence against them if they did not submit to his sexual advances.

Neither victim ever met Bennington in person, according to the complaint. When one of the victims demanded that Bennington stop harassing her, Bennington replied that he was going to kill her and her family. 

Social media records show that, in addition to the threatening and harassing messages he sent to young women and girls, Bennington frequently made statements on internet groups promoting incel ideology. According to court documents, incels are persons who are unable to find a willing sex partner. Incel ideology promotes the view that women oppress men and have too much freedom to choose their own sexual partners. The ideology ranges in tone from sad and self-loathing to advocating the “absolute hatred” of women, according to court documents.

The complaint charges Bennington with cyberstalking, a felony offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated this matter.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David T. Ryan of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section.

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