A crew of at least five burglars working together gathered more than $15,000 in cash and merchandise during a blitzkrieg burglary of a Studio City shop specializing in consumer and commercial drones and accessories.
"It looks like they came in as a group and took exactly what they wanted," said LAPD Det. Lt. Bob Toledo.
It was around 3 a.m. Wednesday when the burglars broke through the plate glass front door of the Drones Plus shop in the Ventura Boulevard mini-mall at the intersection with Tujunga Avenue.
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What happened next can be seen on the security video recording. As the security alarm blared, members of the burglary crew removed the cash register, overturned a display case, emptied a display with GoPro Cameras, and grabbed drones from the service desk where they had been left for repair.
Most of the drones for sale were out of reach in a security lockup, said manager Justin Henderson.
Having studied the security camera video, Henderson said it appeared that "everyone had a specific target."
The burglars exited the shop 75 seconds after entry, according to the clock on the security recording.
"They probably had someone keeping time to make sure they stayed under a minute and a half," Henderson speculated.
LAPD patrol officers arrived within three minutes of the alarm, Toledo said, but the burglars were gone. It's believed they used two vehicles.
All of the burglars had clothing covering their heads, and their faces cannot be made out on the video. Three wore white coveralls with hoods.
It was the second time in five weeks that a team of burglars had broken into the shop. On July 19, two burglars focused on taking GoPro cameras. It cannot be determined from the security videos if they are among the five who broke in Wednesday.
The shop in Studio City is the second opened by Drones Plus. Its original store in Las Vegas has been burglarized four time the past year, said Mike Thorpe, the company's chief operating officer.
In at least one of those cases, security camera video shows burglars wearing white coveralls like those worn by three of the Studio City burglars.
Thorpe believes the increasing popularity of drones for recreation and commercial use has made them a target of thieves. The suspicion is the drones are resold through the Internet. Popular models can be sold as used with only minimal price depreciation, making them all the more appealing to thieves, according to Thorpe.
The front of the Studio City store has walls of glass. The store will install additional cameras, and a metal gate to secure the front while the story is closed, Henderson said, "because I do not want this to happen again."