The Christmas shopping season is being marred by a new crime wave hitting America's cities as "smash and grab" attacks escalated at stores across the country on Black Friday and over the weekend.
In all of the incidents, authorities described "flash mobs" of thieves who rushed in, overwhelmed workers, looted stores, and made off with tens of thousands of dollars in goods.
California police reported a rash of such robberies, including tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise stolen from a Nordstrom. About 20 people were involved in the smash-and-grab theft, stealing about $5,000 worth of merchandise and leaving roughly $15,000 worth of damage to the store when they fled.
During the incident, the mob reportedly used a chemical agent against a security guard, who was treated at the scene.
Similar brazen thefts recently occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area and Beverly Hills in which groups of people, some carrying crowbars and hammers, ransacked high-end stores and stole jewelry, sunglasses, suitcases, clothing, and other merchandise before fleeing in waiting cars.
Organized Thefts Becoming More Aggressive
The National Retail Federation said a recent survey found stores are seeing an increase in organized thefts and perpetrators being more aggressive.
Chicago media reports at least four "smash and grab" robberies, including one involving 14 suspects who went into a Louis Vuitton store in Oak Brook, a Chicago suburb, pulled large plastic bags from their coats, and filled them with clothing and other items, stealing more than $120,000 in merchandise.
Two stores operated by the electronics chain Best Buy were also ransacked in Minnesota. Best Buy has cited organized theft as one of the reasons for a decline in gross profit margin in the third quarter.
"This is a real issue that hurts and scares real people," Best Buy CEO Corie Barry told analysts during a recent conference call.
Barry told reporters during a separate call that the company is seeing organized theft increase across the country, but particularly in San Francisco. She said the company is hiring security guards and working with its vendors on creative ways to stage products.
Criminals Recruit Young People, Sell Stolen Goods Online
The thefts are believed to be part of sophisticated criminal networks that recruit mainly young people to steal merchandise in stores throughout the country and then sell it in online marketplaces. Law enforcement officials say the thefts are ratcheting up as the holiday shopping season gets underway.
The flash mobs are usually organized by local people who recruit their crews and send them to steal specific merchandise requested by criminal organizations throughout the U.S., Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, told the Associated Press.
Those who do the stealing get paid between $500 and $1,000 to take as much as they can and bring it back to organizers who ship it to other parts of the country.
"Crew bosses organize them. They'll give him the crowbars, and in some cases even rent them cars, or provide them with escape routes or a list of products to actually go out and steal. It looks very chaotic, but it's actually very well organized," Dugan said.
"We're not talking about someone who needs money or needs food. These are people who go out and do this is for high profit, and for the thrill," he said.
Analysts Note Progressive DA's Not Enforcing Rule of Law
And while smash-and-grab thefts are occurring nationwide, retail security expert David Levenberg said cities with progressive prosecutors — like Los Angeles and San Francisco — are especially hard-hit because the punishments for perpetrators are not as harsh as in other cities.
"The consequences are minimal, and the profits are substantial," said Levenberg, founder of Florida-based Center Security Services.
Prosecutors from seven California Bay Area counties said they will make a joint effort to combat organized retail theft and met with the state attorney general's office to "develop effective solutions to breaking up the fencing networks that are driving this kind of crime," said a statement from the office of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
Boudin, the chief prosecutor for the city, is facing a recall election next year over his progressive policies, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper reported Boudin's progressive policies include ending mass incarceration and promoting restorative justice. Critics say he has failed to prosecute repeat offenders, allowing them to commit more crimes that have contributed to the deterioration of the city's quality of life. They have pointed at videos of brazen shoplifting and auto break-ins during the pandemic, reinforcing the idea of the city as a lawless place.
The recall election will be held in conjunction with the California statewide primary election on June 7.
The Media Research Center's Newsbusters.org noted on a recent broadcast of CNN's New Day, a network analyst had "no idea" what was behind the smash and grab robbery wave, but then actually supplied the answer.
"Many of the young people we arrested had no previous criminal records. And why they were getting involved in something like this I have no idea . . . So I don't know what's driving this," said former Philadelphia police commissioner and senior CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsay.
Then Ramsay actually answered his own question.
"The punishment for this kind of crime is very, very minimal. In most cases, it's a misdemeanor. There are some DAs that have flat-out said they're no longer going to prosecute shoplifting," he explained.
Contributing Factors and Solutions
SaveCalifornia.com says several factors are contributing to this type of criminal behavior.
- There are fewer cops in Democrat cities (reduced funding + "the jab or your job")
- County DA's don't prosecute thefts of $950 or less, and the criminals know it
- Because of fear of lawsuits (no tort reform), employees are trained not to interfere
- Thanks to government schools, these young bandits have no fear of God in them
- Family destruction has bred many fatherless boys into young men without restraint
The non-profit that describes itself as a pro-family organization also offered several solutions to the problem in their state of California:
- Tell others the Black Lives Matter "defund the police" agenda, the medical tyrants' "the jab or your job" threat, and politicians releasing criminals into communities are all causing the scary rise in crime
- Support a future ballot initiative to repeal Proposition 47 and criminalize crime again
- Prevent crime by doing marriage and family according to the Word of God, including training children personal discipline, respect for authority, and accountability to God.
The group is also promoting a California school choice initiative, calling on parents to "rescue your own children or grandchildren from godless government schools."