A woman caught in the middle of a roving group of vandals and robbers describes what happened when one of the subjects took her phone. Report broadcast Wednesday July 17, 2013 on Today in LA.
Twelve people, including 11 juveniles, were arrested after a series of assaults, robberies and acts of vandalism Tuesday night along Hollywood Boulevard.
Witnesses described a group of about 30 people roaming the tourist area near Hollywood and Highland (map). The first of the robberies was reported at about 9:35 p.m. near Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga Several others were victimized as the group moved west toward Highland Avenue, said Los Angeles police spokesman Officer Christopher No.
"It was just this group of kids, like 30 of them, who came down the boulevard," said Hollywood Boulevard store employee John Kim. "They were just vandalizing stores and looting stores. They just knocked over our gumball machine, took our shirts, knocked over our postcards. They grabbed as much as they could.
"I chased after them. I was just trying to get my shirts back. One guy started hitting me, and then there were four of them trying to attack me."
LAPD Cmdr. Tom Kato said the attackers knocked down victims and snatched their valuables, running into businesses, grabbing items from shelves and even taking cash registers. The violence extended as far south as Santa Monica Boulevard, Kato said.
"They're just running around Hollywood causing problems," said Kato.
Surveillance video, posted below by LA Weekly, showed a group running on the Walk of Fame and knocking over signs as an individual in a store closes the entrance. Walk of Fame visitor Lori Acves was recording video with her iPhone when someone grabbed the phone.
"I was filming celebrities, and all of the sudden I was approached by this group of people," Acves said. "One of them got my phone. This lady next to me -- I have no idea who she is -- but she grabbed me by the arm and tucked me in, and moved me to a different store."
The phone was recovered in a backpack that contained other stolen items, police said.
The 12 taken into custody are facing robbery charges, and officers were unsure of how many more they would arrest, said Lt. Valois of the LAPD Hollywood division. The scene was cleared about 3 a.m. Wednesday, Valois said.
It was unclear how many victims there were, or whether there were any serious injuries. The robberies prompted a strong police response - aerial footage showed dozens of officers amassing nearby.
One officer suffered minor injuries after a foot pursuit involving one of the subjects.
The Walk of Fame in Hollywood was the site of at least two attacks in the last three months, including a fatal stabbing.
A woman was stabbed to death June 18 near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue after she refused to pay a homeless man for taking a photo of his sign. One of three men arrested in the case faces a murder charge.
In May, a transgender woman was attacked by at least four men on Hollywood Boulevard. The group kicked the victim on the ground before running away on the Walk of Fame, police said.
One man was arrested in that attack.
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