A New Crime in Town: The ‘Smash and Grab’ Burglary
A national retail store chain recently reported a break-in at one of its stores in Florida. Apparently, burglars had smashed through the window doors, entered the building, quickly grabbed $35,000 worth of jewelry, and took off, before police could respond to the security alarm. Jewelry stores are perhaps prime targets, but thieves are not shy about robbing pawn shops, cellphone stores, clothing boutiques, department stores, computer shops, cigarette stores, vehicles, and even schools.
Reportedly, the smash & grab type of burglary has seen an increase of at least 70 percent in the last few years, with more and more burglars attempting to steal goods by forcing entry through stores’ weakest link – windows and glass doors. The recent surge in this type of criminal activity has store owners securing their premises with elaborated door systems and secured panels, but most of them provide little resistance to entry.
According to John J. Kennedy, President of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, “What’s interesting is we’re seeing a big rash of smash-and-grabs between New Jersey and Atlanta on the East Coast. A tremendous rash of them in that east coast region. The localities really have shifted.” It is not that the smash & grab type of burglary is something police officers haven’t seen already – it is that it is slowly taking the place of the most popular way of stealing goods: the gun theft.
As far as modus operandiis concerned, Kennedy says that most thieves follow more or less the same procedure: a large number of males go tothe store, smash its glass doors and windows, grab valuables, and get out in 20 or 30 seconds, without concern for setting off security alarms or being caught on surveillance video.
Similar Burglary Techniques
According to a news report by Forbes, another burglary technique similar to the “smash & run” theft is the ‘three-minute burglary,’ which is most likely to happen when valuables are left in unsecured in the store overnight. Robbers proceed to smash the glass door or window, and then do the same thing to the display windows where jewelry is located. Of the total number of burglaries reported by the jewelry industry, the ‘three-minute burglaries’ represent a whopping 82.6 percent, with an estimated loss of $7 million in 2012.
But thieves like to diversify: the ‘grab and run’ is yet another type of jewelry store theft, which involves entering a store, taking anything that’s not secured by display cases, and running out. Such events account for almost 46 percent of the total number of thefts reported to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance in 2012.
Vehicles are also a preferred target for smash & grab burglars, who initially aimed for those left unlocked by owners overnight, but are now smashing through the windows of locked cars as well, in their search for money and valuables (this last step is usually taken by thieves who know for sure they are going to find something of value inside). According to the police, there’s no particular day of the week or time of day when burglars are more likely to attack, which makes these cases even more difficult to investigate.
Burglary charges can bring about not only legal penalties, but also negative social consequences. If you or your loved ones have been charged with burglary, secure legal assistance immediately by calling 773.908.9811 24/7or simply fill out our case review form.
About the Author
Andrew M. Weisberg is a criminal defense attorney in Chicago, Illinois. A former prosecutor in Cook County, Mr. Weisbergis a member of the Capital Litigation Trial Bar, an elite group of criminal attorneys who are certified by the Illinois Supreme Court to try death penalty cases. He is also a member of the Federal Trial Bar. Mr. Weisberg is a sole practitioner at the Law Offices of Andrew M. Weisberg.