LAPD says they finally found culprits in brazen follow-home robberies plaguing city

Police say such attacks were “almost unheard of” before last year.

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Los Angeles police identified street gangs as the perpetrators behind the brazen follow-home robberies, where people are followed home from posh locations, stripped of their jewelry or other possessions and sometimes shot. 

"We have seen countless individuals traumatized by having a gun pointed at them,"  Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who spearheads an LAPD "follow-home robbery" task force, told the city Police Commission on Tuesday. "Many others are dealing with the trauma and injuries from being tackled, kicked, beaten, punched and are pistol-whipped to the head."

A Los Angeles Police Officer Badge.

A Los Angeles Police Officer Badge. (iStock)

At least 17 gangs, most of them based in South Los Angeles, independently staged robberies, sometimes using spotters to target people wearing high-end watches or driving expensive cars, according to Tippet. 

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As many as five carloads of people have followed home some targets, Tippet said.

Three suspects in armed follow-home robberies were arrested earlier this month, including one man who has been arrested three times already this year. 

The suspects held the victim at gunpoint and demanded his watch, police said. (FOX11 Los Angeles KTTV)

The suspects held the victim at gunpoint and demanded his watch, police said. (FOX11 Los Angeles KTTV) (FOX11 Los Angeles KTTV)

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While a pair of armed follow-home robbers were seen on camera last month pistol-whipping a victim outside his downtown Los Angeles.

Tippet said there were 165 such holdups last year and 56 so far this year, including five over a recent two-day span. Thirteen victims were shot, including two people who died. 

Tippet said such attacks were "almost unheard of" before last year.

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"In my 34 years in the LAPD, I have never seen this type of criminal behavior" in such large, coordinated groups, Tippet said.

Los Angeles, California, USA - March 2009: Palm trees and flower beds on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in Hollywood

Los Angeles, California, USA - March 2009: Palm trees and flower beds on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in Hollywood (iStock)

Los Angeles has been plagued with crime in recent months, including police issuing repeated warnings of follow-home robberies late last year, smash-and-grab robberies and an increase in homicides last year, including the fatal shooting of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant while she was in her affluent Beverly Hills home.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.