Scene of unchecked looting sparks anger: ‘It was like a McDonald’s drive-through’

Looters and vandals ransack Spokes 'N Stuff at Melrose Avenue and Ogden Drive on Saturday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Police Department arrested nearly 400 people Saturday during unruly protests, but some officials are concerned at the amount of looting that went unchecked overnight.

Authorities did not have a tally of how many businesses were vandalized or robbed. But parts of Fairfax Avenue and Melrose Avenue were hard hit, with dozens of storefronts damaged. Looters also targeted the Grove shopping center, stealing from the Apple Store, Nordstrom and other businesses.

A procession of cars, SUVs and pickups pulled up in front of the MelroseMac store at 6614 Melrose Ave. and disgorged drivers and passengers around midnight.

With no police in sight, looters scrambled empty-handed into the store through shattered windows and emerged moments later with what appeared to be boxes of computers.

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The scene was broadcast live for at least a half-hour on L.A. news outlets.

“It was like a McDonald’s drive-through outside the Mac store, where cars were pulling up and others were throwing in looted goods and driving off,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz told KTLA-TV Channel 5 Sunday morning.

“They were in a line, one by one,” he said. “It was something the likes of which I’ve never seen anywhere.”

Indeed, police think that some of the looting late Saturday was not connected to the original protest, with people driving around looking for an opportunity to target stores.

In downtown, some looting continued despite the 8 p.m. curfew. Cars cruised around looking for easy marks. Drivers parked as passengers ran inside to grab goods before hustling back out and filling the trunk with pilfered products.

Groups of people — mostly men — wandered the streets of downtown Los Angeles late Saturday night, smashing windows and spray-painting anti-police graffiti on plywood boards that business and property owners had hastily affixed to their buildings earlier in the day.

Among the nearly 400 arrested by the LAPD on Saturday, charges ranged from burglary and looting to vandalism to failure to disperse and curfew violations.

Five officers were injured during the melee, and two were hospitalized. It was unclear how many protesters were hurt, but photos show some with various wounds.

Times staff writers Monte Morin and Richard Winton contributed to this report.