In a city weary of smash-and-grabs, the LAPD's plainclothes shoplifting sting dubbed "Operation Secret Santa" unmasked petty and not-so-petty thieves amidst the holiday shopping frenzy. During a week when most were giving thanks, some were taking it unlawfully, as detailed in a news release by the Los Angeles Police Department via X.
LAPD News: NR23764ti Plain Clothes Shoplifting Operations By Joint Organized Retail Crime Taskforce pic.twitter.com/Ni1nfClSFg— LAPD PIO (@LAPDPIO) November 28, 2023
The joint task force, featuring LAPD's finest alongside detectives from Torrance, Beverly Hills, Burbank, and Santa Monica, set their sights on various retail havens from Hollywood to Southeast Division, culminating in 11 arrests. Ironically, the clandestine operation conducted between November 22 and November 25 netted criminals as fast as stores slashed prices; however, the November 25 sting near the 14000 block of Riverside Drive came up empty.
Suspects Meekins, Love, and Berry were nabbed for a brash daylight robbery on the 9800 block of South Alameda Street. The trio, masquerading as shoppers, swiped shoes without a whisper of payment; their heist was thwarted as an eagle-eyed employee called upon the hidden coppers, "in fear for his life," LAPD detailed.
Among the lighter-fingered looters, a diversity of miscreants was cited and released on zero bail, which included folks like Lisa Lewis, 55, from Long Beach, and Ryan Karbelk, 39, of Los Angeles—each arrested for shoplifting yet allowed to slip back into the streets they once pilfered. The knock-off Bonnie and Clyde, Vincasia Love and Yanah Meekins, weren't so lucky. Booked with bails set high and options low, Meekins's bail stood firm at $50,000, and Love held without due to past peccadilloes.
The LAPD's haul over the holiday heist hiatus amounts to a substantial $5,390 in merchandise, all of which was saved from the shadowy fate of the black market. And while shoppers look for deals, the ORCTF has made it clear: they'll be watching, waiting, and ready to wrap up the retail rats looking for a five-finger discount on someone else's dime.