ATLANTA — Police arrested four alleged members of the so-called “Blue Jean Bandits” after the high-end boutique eModa here was robbed twice in six days of about $80,000 worth of premium denim, sportswear, jewelry and shoes.
The suspects were seized last week after police found jeans with eModa sales tags at an apartment complex in southwest Atlanta, along with guns and stolen televisions, said Sgt. Archie Ezell, a police spokesman.
Ezell said the suspects belong to the 30 Deep street-gang that investigators believe is responsible for the wave of break-ins that started two years ago as after-hours smash-and-grabs at upscale denim boutiques and escalated last summer to holdups during store hours.
Authorities said the thieves have stolen more than $1 million worth of merchandise from some 60 local merchants.
“It’s almost just as profitable as selling drugs and [to the gang members]. it’s a little safer,” Ezell said. “They don’t feel like the police will stop them on the streets for selling merchandise. If they steal $50,000 worth of merchandise, they can easily resell it on the streets for $20,000.”
Six thieves broke down eModa’s back door on Thursday and took $30,000 worth of denim, which included lines such as True Religion, Rock & Republic and Seven For All Mankind; Just Cavalli sportswear, L.A.M.B. sneakers and other products.
On May 8, nine robbers smashed the glass back door and stole $50,000 worth of merchandise. After the first incident, which was caught on video surveillance tape, owner Dan Kogan restocked and had the back door reinforced with wood and steel.
“They just broke [the back door] down again, the exact same way,” he said. “They all had gloves on, they all had positions and they all knew exactly what they were doing. These are professional criminals and jeans are obviously a commodity to them.”
In July, 17 suspects were arrested in connection with the robberies. Ezell said the majority of the suspects are still in custody awaiting trial.
“The robberies didn’t stop [after the arrests]….They’re still doing smash-and-grabs at department stores and there have been [related] robberies outside our jurisdiction,” Ezell said.
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