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'Smash-And-Grab' Robberies Unsettling Shoppers, Workers

Even though overall Los Angeles crime rates are down from last year, recent incidents of smash-and-grab robberies have unsettled people who work and shop at malls, the Los Angeles Times reports. That kind of robbery still makes up little of the overall problem of retail theft. But, after a Nordstrom robbery involving more than 30 masked men made national news, debate over how to respond to retail crime in big cities including L.A., San Francisco and New York has been reignited. In recent weeks, organized mobs hit stores across the L.A. region, including Nike, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. “What can stores do to be safer?” said Ani Chittle, 77, a Westfield Topanga mall regular. “We are not overreacting to the robberies and I’m not so scared that I have changed my habits to visit here.”


Los Angeles police responded to the robbery by beefing up patrols. “The most disheartening thing here is that this is what we’ve come to here in L.A.,” said police Commander Gisselle Espinoza. “We are interviewing people and trying to find leads and strategies to find out who these people are.” Sophisticated networks are sometimes organized on social media and messaging apps, targeting luxury retailers and then reselling items through websites. The thieves coordinate to steal merchandise such as perfume, cosmetics, toiletries and power tools, using cohorts to deliver their stolen merchandise to warehouses. Although Plexiglas cases and steel cables deter professional shoplifting crews, the mobs aren’t beyond using sheer force and even violence to get what they want. The Nordstrom thieves stole more than $100,000 worth of merchandice, and five days earlier, thieves grabbed about $300,000 worth of merchandise from Yves Saint Laurent in Glendale.

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