The Watch Thieves Who Picked L.A. Clean
In less than 10 months, a fledgling robbery ring smashed and grabbed its way to $6 million in stolen goods. But the leaders got greedy, plans got sloppy, and the police got smart.
Their story was always about time—time to plan, to execute, to get away—but in the end it was really about how quickly time could disappear. How fast a plan could dissolve, a getaway route crumble, or a profit margin explode, becoming greater than anyone had anticipated.
They’re accused of forming one of the most ambitious robbery rings in recent Los Angeles history. The group operated for less than 10 months, yet it allegedly brought in nearly $6 million worth of stolen jewelry and luxury watches. One of their attempted heists took precisely 61 minutes, from planning to execution, according to federal prosecutors, and we know this because they were already under ATF surveillance. They were turning heads. They had the authorities worried.
It all came down to time. Between a phone call and a robbery, an hour might pass or just a short car ride from one neighborhood to the next, or maybe a few days might slide by, but the clock was always ticking. There would be a donning of ski masks or more elaborate disguises—dressing up like construction workers seemed to work for them—and then a final check of a handgun or rifle. Then, of course, there were the heists. They were quick, explosive; one in February 2016, prosecutors claim, took less than a minute.