Beware the chain snatchers : Women walking through Historic Filipinotown and the MacArthur Park area should watch out for thieves who have been snatching necklaces and jewelry off pedestrians during the day, reports LAPD Lt. Wes Buhrmester with the Rampart Division. Two of the crimes were reported last week and four the week before in the area south of the 101 Freeway between Alvarado and Hoover streets. The suspects are male but are not believed to be working together, Buhrmester said.

“Perhaps due to the increasing value of gold, we are getting hit with a disproportionate number of males who are approaching female pedestrians, snatching their chains from their necks, and fleeing,” Buhrmester said by email. “They utilize the element of surprise to carry out the act.”

Buhrmester said the Rampart Division is focusing on the jewelry thefts as part of special task forces created during the holidays.

* Update: A chain snatcher was apprehended Wednesday morning in the MacArthur Park area, Buhrmester said in a comment posted to this story:

“We got a bit of a break today (December 9, 2009). At approximately 11:30 a.m. in the MacArthur Park area, a chain snatch of a woman occurred. The victim’s husband and an off-duty police officer chased and caught the suspect, and held him for police arrival. During an interview of the suspect, a gang member, following his arrest, he advised that thieves are stealing chains and jewelry, then mailing them to companies that will pay cash for gold.”

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