HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Police and public officials Wednesday stressed that Hollywood was a safe place to visit despite an overnight crime spree that involved a mob of approximately 40 people.
The crimes occurred around 9 p.m. in the area near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
“Groups that ranged anywhere from 15 of these kids to as large as 40 . . . either knocking people down and taking their cell phones, running into a business and taking merchandise, taking their cash register or causing havoc like breaking windows,” Cmdr. Dennis Kato said.
Eleven juveniles, ages 14 to 17, and one 18-year-old were arrested for looting, assault, robbery and other charges.
It was unclear what prompted the spree, but police believe it was not a protest in response to the George Zimmerman verdict.
“What we are thinking is that these youngsters took advantage of our redeployment of officers down to the Crenshaw district last night and decided it would be a good night to come down to Hollywood and act a little crazy,” Cmdr. Andy Smith said at a news conference.
Police say Tuesday night’s incident was isolated and Hollywood is still a safe and fun tourist destination.
“In this year alone our crime is down 17 percent. In fact, the crimes last night, which is called robbery, is down actually 27 percent year to date,” Smith said.
Evidence was found on Twitter suggested that the crime spree was premeditated.
“a black friend just messages me saying this: Hollywood and vine station riot at 7:30,” a user @BeBoojie tweeted.
“I think they are just a bunch of wild, out of control kids . . . A lot of people will not want to come to Hollywood if they have to deal with this sort of potential thing and its ridiculous,” one local business owner said.
Detectives plan to release photos of outstanding suspects over the coming days.
“We’ll be releasing photographs from all the cameras that are up and down Hollywood Boulevard . . . and we ask for the public’s help in apprehending these folks,” Smith said.
Tuesday’s crime spree was the second major incident to occur in Hollywood in the last two months.
On June 18, a 23-year-old woman was fatally stabbed near the Hollywood & Highland complex following an argument with three transients.