Spike in smash-and-grab attacks means bad news in store for shoppers

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Black Friday is famous for its Christmas sales and packed stores, but if the boom in retail thefts – brazen attacks by flash mobs – continues, there will soon be no stores left to pack.

Places like Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago are seeing waves of “Smash and Grab” raids, forcing some shops to simply close. Robbers break into windows, flood stores, beat and paper-spray workers and blow away hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

In Walnut Creek, Calif., near San Francisco, a crowd of 80 stormed Nordstrom on Saturday, attacking employees and grabbing goods with weapons. The day before, mobs targeted 10 retailers in San Francisco’s Union Square.

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district has also faced sky-high thefts, including a Neiman Marcus robbery last week. three carloads Why Purpose? Empty stores now make up a long stretch of North Michigan Avenue.

This is on top of rampant shoplifting (originally decriminalized in California for smaller quantities), with retail chains closing outlets by the dozen in Golden State cities.

This week, the San Francisco DA charged nine suspects with shoplifting worth more than $1 million — yet they’re a fraction of the people involved. The fact is that, due to the overwhelm of the police, prosecutors refuse to prioritize such crimes and drastically reduce criminal penalties, leaving robbers (and the crimes for which they work) often much less. or no result. Organized retail robbery has become a rational career option.

Suspects attack a security guard for stealing an estimated $25,000 during a loot-and-grab burglary at a Nordstrom store in Los Angeles.

Gotham, for its part, has been lucky so far: In addition to last year’s riots following the murder of George Floyd, it has been spared a smash-and-grab outbreak. Yet the shops here, too, have seen a tidal wave of thefts, with over 26,000 shoplifting cases during September alone, the highest number tracked up to that point in 26 years.

Last month, The Post reported that 22-year-old Isaac “Man of Steel” Rodriguez was arrested 46 times for retail theft. this year, And each time quickly released. The National Retail Federation ranked New York City fourth in “organized retail crime” among the top metro areas.

A shopper has been caught on video exiting a San Francisco Walgreens after stuffing several items into a garbage bag.
A shopper has been caught on video peddling outside the San Francisco Walgreens after stuffing several items into a garbage bag.

It’s not just businesses that suffer: shoppers, too, lose out when stores close, and face higher prices because the rest of the retail must cover the loss, insurance and protection. Organized robbery now costs US retailers $65 billion annually.

Fostering these crimes is the same thing that is driving the spike in big-city murders: the dismantling of criminal-justice “reforms,” ​​the police department shrinking in the wake of the Defend the Police movement and the progressives’ general anti-police hostility.

Shelves empty inside a CVS on America's Avenue and Spring St. in Soho after several robberies on October 6, 2021.
Empty shelves were seen last month inside a CVS in NYC after several robberies.
Helen Seidman

“Why should a police officer waste time in a dispute when the person is not going to jail?” asks Pete Eliadis, a former law-enforcement officer and founder of Intelligence Consulting Partners.

If that doesn’t change, get ready to do all your shopping online—unless criminals target him too.


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