Operations-Valley Bureau and Operations-West Bureau successfully
conduct seven search warrants on residence and business locations of
stolen property fencing operators
In early 2012, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) through its
continual crime analysis noted that residential burglaries were spiking
very early in the year. Specifically, Operations-West Bureau recorded
an increase of over 36% in residential burglaries. Meanwhile,
Operations-Valley Bureau noted an increase of nearly 10% in residential
burglaries. With this degree of increase in residential burglaries, it
was quickly observed that the crime reduction goals of the LAPD may not
be met and worse, an increasing number of community members felt unsafe
that their homes and valuables were not safe from intruders.
Further analysis determined that a unique Modus Operandi (MO) accounted
for over 10% of the crimes committed. Specifically, homeowners and
witnesses reported that in many instances the suspects would knock at
the front door and await a response from inside. When there was no
response, the suspects would either kick in the door or scout around the
back of the home for an open door, window, or other easily accessible
means to gain entry. Once inside, the suspects would ransack the most
common locations within a home where jewelry and small electronics would
be kept. Within a matter of minutes, the suspects would emerge with
the victim’s property and flee in a getaway car.
As time and crime analysis continued, it was recognized that many of the
same suspects that were committing their crimes in Operations-West
Bureau were also striking in Operations-Valley Bureau.
As a result of this specific MO and the shared identities of known
suspects preying on the same communities, the “Knock-Knock Task Force”
was formed in March, 2012, by the Commanding Officers of Operations-West
and Operations-Valley Bureaus with the approval of the Chief of Police.
As the task force developed and fine tuned its operations and gathered
information, it became apparent that the suspects would quickly seek out
a “fence” in order to exchange the victim’s gold jewelry for cash. In
many instances, these transactions would be completed within an hour of
the crime being committed.
On-going surveillance efforts and monitoring of these suspects led the
LAPD to two business locations within the 700 Block of South Broadway,
under the business names of Fine Silver Max’s Jewelry and Guadalajara’s
Jewelry in downtown Los Angeles. Time and time again, burglary and
armed robbery suspects were observed engaging in hasty transactions in
which they entered the store with a handful of gold jewelry and
reemerged with money.
It should be noted that within the City of Los Angeles, second hand
shops and pawn shops are required by law to obtain a fingerprint and
record a form of identification when conducting transactions of personal
property in exchange cash payments. Throughout the course of this
investigation, employees of these businesses were never observed
obtaining a fingerprint or recording identification information during
their exchanges. This disregard for the established State laws had the
result of fueling more burglaries as suspects knew they could exchange
gold for cash with “no questions asked.”
As the LAPD began to investigate these business owners, it was apparent
that they were overseeing a criminal enterprise and were likely involved
in a variety of crimes to include receiving stolen property, suspected
tax evasion, and identity theft. Of particular note, the investigation
determined that the owner of Fine Silver Max’s Jewelry obtained the
social security number of an unrelated juvenile who resides in the
Midwest and was using her identity for a variety of activities to secure
credit and further his business activities.
As a result, around 10:00 a.m. this morning, detectives and police
officers from the Los Angeles Police Department in conjunction with
Special Agents from the Immigration Control and Enforcement Service and
Internal Revenue Service served simultaneous arrest and search warrants
on the homes and businesses of these fence operators.
The owner of Fine Silver Max’s Fine Jewelry, located at 700 block of
South Broadway, Ismael Monje, was taken into custody at his business
without incident. Monje was questioned and booked on multiple counts of
felony identity theft.
Mr. Monje was also identified as the owner and operator of two adjacent
businesses, Fine Silver Max Jewelry/Discos Barba Azul, located at 600
block of South Broadway, and Max One Electronics located at 700 block of
South Broadway. All three of Mr. Monje’s businesses were searched and
all property was seized as potential evidence. Mr. Monje’s home was
searched and various valuables identified as potential evidence were
The owner of Guadalajara’s Jewelry, located at 700 block of South
Broadway, Mr. Farshad Yaghoobi, was taken into custody at his residence
without incident. Yaghoobi was questioned and booked for felony
receiving of stolen property. This store was also searched and all
property was seized as potential evidence. Yaghoobi’s residence was
searched and all items of potential evidence were seized.
All four businesses have been closed and any business licenses within
the City of Los Angeles have been cancelled. A seventh warrant was
served which froze the personal and business banking account assets
associated with these suspects pending further investigation by the LAPD
and other federal agencies.
These arrests and asset seizures mark a significant milestone in the
successes of the Knock-Knock Task Force. The investigative efforts of
the LAPD have closed four businesses that fueled many burglary rings
operating within the City of Los Angeles. Additionally, these arrests
and asset seizures send a strong message to other jewelry exchanges,
second hand stores, and pawn shops that the City of Los Angeles will not
tolerate a disregard for State law that have the effect of promoting
crime and adversely impacting personal lives and property.
To that end, the investigation and arrest of numerous burglary suspects
has continued. As of this date, this task force has produced
significant progress in combating this crime through hard work and
perseverance. This perseverance is reflected in over 1,400 hours of
surveillance. As of September 14, 2012, the task force has arrested 68
suspects. 55 of these suspects were directly involved in residential
burglaries and engaged in transactions at the above businesses. The
remaining 13 were arrested for a variety of violations ranging from
outstanding warrants to probation/parole violations. Over the course of
these past six months, the task force has served 41 search warrants,
recovered nearly $150,000.00 worth of victim’s property, and seized six
As a result of this productivity, since March of this year, residential
burglaries within Operations-West Bureau have declined nearly over 36%
and residential burglaries within Operations-Valley Bureau have declined
over 19%. This is a remarkable turnaround.
Despite these successes, this task force remains in place and committed
to serving the communities of Los Angeles by seeking out new leads on
new suspects engaged in or promoting residential burglaries.
For further information please contact Operations-Valley Bureau
Lieutenant Jim Setzer at 818-644-8105. During non-business hours or on
weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at
1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers
by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a
cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”
Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow