The crime of ‘smash and take’: why some US cities are witnessing an attack
So why so many incidents lately? Are they holiday related? That restless pandemic?
But security experts have cited a combination of several other factors.
Such cases do not always give priority to law enforcement
Many store thieves wear masks or hoods, making them difficult to identify even if they are detected on security cameras.
One reason for this is a lack of resources for law enforcement, which means theft cases sometimes come under the spotlight, he said. And, he added, the “undermining the police” movement has dampened the morale of some officers.
“There’s no political will to prosecute people in this atmosphere. Why should a police officer waste time in a melee when he or she doesn’t have to go to jail because it’s too crowded and the prosecution the officer won’t prosecute that case because it’s not high on the priority list?” Eliadis said.
“The bottom line is we need political will, more prosecution, and the support of law enforcement.”
Thieves may face a number of consequences
For example, Proposition 47, a California ballot initiative passed in 2014, sought to ease prison overcrowding by reducing penalties for some criminals. This measure raised the threshold for theft from $500 to $950.
“For low-level crimes, the benefits far outweigh the risks, as the threshold for a misdemeanor is $950 – meaning a person can steal up to that amount and be charged with only a misdemeanor,” Buel said.
Organized crime rings are often behind these types of “smashing” activities and pay low-level criminals to steal for them,” she said.
Security experts say dismantling these sophisticated criminal groups should be a law enforcement priority.
“People see the possibility of these ‘break-ins’ knowing that there will be very few consequences, especially if the thefts are kept below the threshold of a felony,” says Buel. , it’s quick and the payback is good.”
Holidays create more opportunities for theft
It’s not uncommon for “smash and grab” to increase around the Christmas holiday season, Buel said.
Stores stock up ahead of the holiday, which means there’s plenty of merchandise to choose from. That means more opportunities and more convenience for those who like to hunt, she said.
“These brazen, violent crimes are carried out by sophisticated criminal organizations that are involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and other serious crimes,” said Raoul.
There are many places to sell stolen goods
Once items are stolen, experts say, there are a number of ways to sell them – all extremely easy and with little regulation and oversight from law enforcement. Most items taken in such cases don’t have serial numbers, says Eliadis, making them nearly impossible to track down.
“It’s incredibly easy to sell stolen goods online through e-commerce platforms,” Buel said. “E-commerce has really taken off as a place to sell stolen goods.”
Other thieves don’t need to sell their stolen goods on Craigslist or eBay. They can also use flea markets, pawn shops and street vendors. Thieves can sell expensive items at exorbitant prices, meaning there’s no shortage of buyers, Eliadis added.
The result is a ruthless cycle that affects everyone, says Eliadis. Some affected stores will close or relocate. And retailers hit by thefts see an increase in their insurance rates and private security costs – costs that will eventually pass on to customers.