Stayshawn Stephens, a 26-year-old man from Los Angeles, has been charged in a series of robberies targeting taco trucks and street vendors. Prosecutors allege that Stephens, along with two other men, committed six robberies over a violent two-hour period. The suspects brandished guns, threatened workers, and stole their tip jars. Stephens pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of second-degree robbery with the aggravating factor of violent conduct.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) apprehended Stephens one day after the robberies occurred. The incidents took place in Hollywood, Echo Park, and downtown Los Angeles. The suspects made their escape in a white Honda Civic. The LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division is currently investigating over 20 similar holdups that have occurred in Los Angeles since May, although it is unclear if Stephens is connected to those cases.
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón expressed his condemnation of the violence targeting street vendors, stating that such coordinated armed robberies on vulnerable individuals trying to earn a living are abhorrent. Gascón commended the LAPD for their swift action and emphasized the commitment to holding those responsible accountable.
The robberies on Wednesday began around 9:40 p.m. near 3rd and Bixel streets. The suspects then targeted a taco stand at Union Avenue and Shatto Street in the Westlake area before fleeing in a white Honda. Another taco stand on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood and a location on Hollywood Boulevard were also robbed. The spree continued with a robbery at Alvarado Street and Glendale Boulevard, and it concluded at 9th Street and Broadway. During each incident, the suspects, described as men in their mid-20s to early 30s, displayed a handgun, demanded money, and fled in a white sedan with stolen property.
Stephens is currently held on $1.3-million bail and is scheduled for a hearing on September 1. In 2017, he was arrested in Louisiana for his alleged involvement in a Los Angeles-based criminal organization that installed credit card skimming devices in gas pumps.
The recent surge in street vendor robberies in Los Angeles began on May 28, with subsequent robberies occurring in various locations. The suspects targeted taco trucks, using handguns to commit the crimes. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating a taco truck holdup in the Florence area.