Burglaries are a problem in California. In 2021, California property crimes increased by 2.4% from 2020. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 16% of the reported property crimes in California were burglaries.
Traditionally, burglaries are committed by one, sometimes two people, who are simply hoping to make some money, but over the past few years, a disturbing new trend developing in California that is changing how burglaries take place. The trend is called flocking. Many popular celebrities including Emmy Rossum and Nicki Minaj have found themselves in the middle of a flocking burglary.
One of the surprising developments with flocking burglaries is that they are committed in affluent areas by gang members who rarely leave Los Angeles’s impoverished communities.
The way it works is that a handful of gang members, usually about four, are selected to hit a specific target. The group doesn’t simply attempt to break into the residence under cover of darkness. Instead, they dress in nice clothing that makes them look like a part of the community. The group then walks up to the front doors and starts knocking. If no one answers, the group break-in and steals as much as they can. It’s unclear if they know which houses they are going to hit beforehand or if they simply work their way down a street.
The flocking style of burglary has proven to be very lucrative to L.A. gangs, particularly when they strike a celebrity’s home. Emmy Rossum reported that she lost about $150,000 in jewelry, and Alanis Morrisette allegedly lost 2 million in jewelry and valuables were stolen when her home was hit.
While each gang has its own reason for using the flocking method when committing burglaries, it’s likely they use this approach for a few different reasons, including:
- More people involved in the crime means that even more valuables can be removed.
- Having more people in the home shortens the amount of time it takes to go through the place, decreasing the odds that the police will arrive in time to make an arrest.
- Having multiple people means having several different skill sets in one location, increasing the likelihood of at least one person knowing how to override security.
- They can have one person watching out for bodyguards/police/dogs while the rest of the group goes through the home.
- If the police are alerted, the gang can go in separate directions. The police may apprehend one but will have a difficult time reaching all of the people involved.
According to the Orange County Register, gangs who excel at flocking hope to steal about $10,000 a day and often use the money to help free gang members who are arrested.