Three gunmen robbed at least three taco trucks and street stands on Wednesday, the latest in a string of more than a dozen such holdups across Los Angeles, police said.
Waving guns in the faces of taco vendors, the three gunmen stole cash and cellphones, striking as the businesses were closing up for the evening in communities in south, east and central areas of Los Angeles.
The LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division is already investigating a string of more than a dozen armed robberies at taco trucks and stands in recent months. Investigators believe the crimes are connected.
According to law enforcement sources, the descriptions of the suspects and vehicle used in all three robberies Wednesday night matched.
The surge of street vendor robberies began on May 28 at 12:25 a.m. with a heist at Central Avenue and East 101st Street.
A different group of two or three suspects armed with handguns struck two more taco trucks that night within a mile of the first robbery, according to police.
The men, described as being in their 20s or 30s, held up a taco truck at Century Boulevard and San Pedro Street in the South Los Angeles community of Green Meadows around 11 p.m., according to police. They then robbed another truck, at 103rd Street and Avalon Boulevard just a few blocks away, police said.
In the second robbery, of a Tacos Los Chemas truck, two suspects wearing hoodies jammed a gun into one victim’s neck and pistol-whipped another, according to video obtained by KTLA-TV The suspects fled both robberies in a white car, police said.
A few days later, authorities say the same suspects in the first holdup carried out two more robberies within five minutes of each other: one at East 103rd Street and Compton Avenue and the other at East 92nd Street and Central Avenue.
There has also been at least one taco truck holdup in the Florence area, which is in the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
In all the robberies, the suspects made off with undisclosed amounts of cash, police said.
Rudy Espinoza, executive director of the advocacy group Inclusive Action for the City, said that food trucks may be easier targets for robbers than brick-and-mortar establishments.
“There’s informality with what they’re doing, and it exposes them to people mistreating them,” said Espinoza. “Food trucks and street vendors operate in the open-air economy, in this gray informal space, and I think historically our city hasn’t welcomed or taken care of these entrepreneurs.”
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