Police are warning street vendors around Boyle Heights to take precautions after a local taco stand was robbed by an armed suspect.
About 10 officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Division have distributed flyers to vendors in both English and Spanish, according to LAPD detective Bill Blount. The flyers stressed the need to stay alert and note details about suspects that would help the police in an investigation, NBC Los Angeles reported.
The outreach efforts were a preventative measure aimed at avoiding a outbreak of vendor robberies, Blount said. Though he could not provide details because the investigation is ongoing, he said an armed robbery at a taco stand “in the last few weeks” spurred the initiative.
“We’re trying to take a proactive approach and nip it before it gets any bigger,” Blount said.
Last June, a series of attacks against street vendors led the LAPD to warn the public of “unknown gang members” in the area, The Eastsider reported. Blount said police eventually solved five out of seven robbery cases but saw more incidents in the fall.
“We didn’t want to see another spike or another increase in the neighborhood,” Blount said.
He added that police have warned vendors not to carry large sums of cash, or to have someone pick up their earnings at various points throughout the night. The attacks tend to happen just after midnight when most vendors are closing up and are carrying a full day’s earnings.
“There’s always been instances like these because [street vendors] are so vulnerable,” Blount said.
The Los Angeles City Council voted to legalize street vending in November, after a state law decriminalized the practice earlier last year. Around 50,000 vendors operate across the city, Curbed LA reported.
Photo: Food vendor Caridad Vázquez sells food on Breed Street in Boyle Heights. Photo by Noemí Pedraza.