Moment robbers calmly walk up to diners and steal watches at gunpoint

Moment masked ‘Rolex bandits’ point their guns at couple eating in LA’s Hot Wings Café and steal their luxury watches in 15-second raid

  • Security camera footage from the LA restaurant shows the nonchalant robbery
  • Two masked men enter the restaurant and strut towards a young couple’s table
  • One of the men brandishes a pistol and forces two victims remove their watches
  • The restaurant owner’s son told police: ‘They were in and out within 15 seconds.’ 
  • The robbery took place on October 16 but the footage came to light in the wake of last week’s state-wide Black Friday lootings 

This is the moment armed robbers nonchalantly walked into a restaurant in California and stole a woman’s watch at gunpoint.

The shocking footage is from a Hot Wings Café on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, and shows a young couple tucking into a meal at a small table when a pair of masked men descend on them.

One of the men struts up to the table brandishing a pistol, while the other circles behind the couple and leans over the male victim’s shoulder, appearing to whisper something in his ear.

He promptly takes off his watch and hands it over to the armed man, before his female companion follows suit.

The robbery lasted all of 10 seconds and was conducted with total calm, as though the group were sharing a simple conversation in a crowded restaurant.

The incident, which took place on October 16 according to the LAPD, came to light in the wake of last week’s Black Friday lootings, in which businesses and individuals across the state were robbed.  

The restaurant owner’s son said the bandits were ‘in and out within 15 seconds.’

‘Your typical Rolex bandit situation… We’ve never seen such heightened levels of crime,’ he said.

‘We want to see more city officials and LAPD presence in the area. We want to ensure safety for us and for our patrons, for everybody in the community,’ he added.

The security camera footage, which has been circulated on social media, shows a young couple dining in a Hot Wings Café in Los Angeles

A pair of hooded, masked men (right) enter the restaurant and proceed to walk up to the couple’s table

One man brandishes a pistol, while the other leans over the male victim’s shoulder to whisper something in his ear as the couple quickly remove their watches and hand them over to the robbers

Meanwhile, cities across the state of California faced as torrent of violent robberies during the week of Black Friday despite California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s vow to crack down on organized ‘smash and grabs’ plaguing the state.

Newsom has long been criticised for perpetuating an environment in which ‘minor’ crimes such as non-violent robberies and thefts were downgraded to misdemeanors. 

In 2014, California voters passed a law barring prosecutors from charging suspected shoplifters accused of stealing less than $950 worth of merchandise with felonies. 

Newsom said that his plans for next year’s budget will ‘substantially’ increase funding for cities to address organized retail crime, and last week promised to ‘step up’ police patrols to deter looters around Black Friday. 

‘We need to break up these crime rings, and we need to make an example out of these folks,’ Newsom said. ‘We cannot allow this to continue.’ 

But the comments were met with ire from Republicans who argued Newsom had embraced soft policies that set the stage for the very burglaries he pledged to combat. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom vowed on Monday to get tough with organized gangs of thieves who have ransacked and looted luxury retail stores across the state

California’s Proposition 47 – lighter sentences for thieves

Proposition 47 was passed by California voters on November 5, 2014.

It made some ‘non-violent’ property crimes, where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $950, into misdemeanors.

It also made some ‘simple’ drug possession offenses into misdemeanors, and allows past convictions for these charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor by a court. 

Under California law, though, if two or more person’s conspire to ‘cheat and defraud any person or any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal’ they can face no more than one year in county prison, a fine of $10,000 or a combination of the two.

Roaming packs of thieves ransacked several luxury retailers in Los Angeles’ Beverly Grove shopping district on Black Friday in which passers-by were pepper sprayed by the robbers according to LAPD, before they descending on a Home Depot where they stole sledgehammers and wrenches before driving away.

The Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department told CBS that the Home Depot robbery was especially worrying because the tools stolen could likely be used to rob more stores in the area. 

Sheriff’s deputies added that an entire section of sledge hammers was cleared out at the Home Depot, hammers similar to those that gangs of thieves have used to smash glass displays to nab jewelry and other high-end products like iPhones.

Police officials have blamed California’s lax attitudes towards non-violent thefts and robberies for the string of crimes, which included 20 robbers smashing their way into a Nordstrom at The Grove retail complex in LA on Monday night, making off with $5,000 worth of merchandise; and a CVS pharmacy in the city was struck just an hour later, where looters stole $8,000 from a cash register.

Aside from the organized crime rings, the growing problem has been attributed to police officers’ apparent reluctance to pursue retail criminals in the current political climate, prosecutors’ failure to prioritize larceny and theft, and the decriminalization of low-level offenses in some jurisdictions.

In Oakland, three people were shot dead over the weekend, including a retired police officer who was working as a security guard protecting a television crew reporting from the scene of a smash and grab. 

Kevin Nishita, a father of two and grandfather of three, was on assignment to guard the KRON4 team as it was reporting on the latest smash-and-grab raid in California on Wednesday when a robber targeted the TV crew for their cameras. 

Nishita, a former police officer, confronted one of 12 masked robbers to protect the reporters, and the thief shot him in the lower abdomen. He was rushed to Highland Hospital to undergo surgery, but died on Saturday morning. 

KRON4, its parent company Nexstar Media Inc., Nishita’s employer Star Protection Agency and the Oakland Police Department have issued a $32,500 reward for information on the suspects. 

‘We are devastated by the loss of security guard and our friend, Kevin Nishita,’ KRON4’s Vice President Jim Rose said in a statement. ‘This senseless loss of life is due to yet another violent criminal act in the Bay Area.’ 

Oakland security guard, father-of-two and grandfather-of-three Kevin Nishita was one of three people killed in Oakland over the weekend. He was shot while protecting a TV crew reporting on smash-and-grab raid.

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