Crime is up across America, from small town USA to major cities. Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, even Beverly Hills are seeing a rash of smash-and-grab robberies that are overwhelming employees and yielding only a handful of arrests. Homicides are up across the United States, and twelve cities have met and broken previous murder rates in their cities.
When pressed, members of the Biden Administration have said that the surge in crime is due to the pandemic. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed “disappointment” that retail stores weren’t doing more to beef up security. In response, many retailers are hearing Lightfoot’s comment, and they are responding in an unconventional way.
In Los Angeles, The Grove Shopping Center has been the target of retail theft; the Nordstrom located within the shopping center was hit by what appeared to be organized thieves in a smash-and-grab incident. Newsnation Now reports that The Grove has set up coiled wire in a bright yellow color around the perimeter of the buildings. Onlookers have compared the coiled wire to the razor wire such as one would observe on prison gates.
The vice president of Adamson Police Products related that the wire was set up in such a way that perpetrators running would have to navigate around the wire, and they are likely to get tangled in the coiled wire. The industry organization also reported that at least three-quarters of retail businesses saw an increase in organized retail crime.
According to a National Retail Foundation report, ten cities have been most affected by this type of theft. They include (in order of occurrence):
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington, DC
In Chicago, smash-and-grab thieves hit the same Nordstrom store twice in one day.
The National Retail Foundation reported that at least fifty percent of retailers are making moves to utilize technology in an attempt to foil robberies. However, the other half of retailers are buying “specific loss prevention equipment,” such as the coiled wire outside the Los Angeles Nordstrom and The Grove Shopping Center.
In San Francisco, officials have taken steps to change the pattern of traffic around these shopping centers. Many of the smash-and-grab robberies have involved quick getaways – one group of thieves even had cars waiting outside when they fled the store. The hope by officials is that the perpetrators will have a more difficult time parking, committing the robberies, then hopping into cars and racing away.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said to local media: “We will do what we need to do to put an end to this madness.”
London Breed, the San Francisco mayor, has pledged to put a stop to the crime wave. In a press conference this week, she resorted to using strong language to describe the behavior of local thieves.
On November 20, an incident involving a local Nordstrum store in San Francisco prompted the police to close a street near Walnut Creek.
Walnut Creek mayor spoke to NBC’s Bay Area affliate station on the incident: “If it means that we are going to detour roads, if it means we’re going to have more police on the street and more security around, whatever it takes, every option is on the table.”
Beginning November 19, San Francisco police announced that they have several new crime prevention strategies to implement to fight the recent crime wave. The department stated that, in early December, there had been a significant reduction in retail theft.
The police spokesman said that the tactics his department is now using are set to run indefinitely. The San Francisco Police Department has pledged to use road or street closures until further notice. As a result of these street closures, there have only been twelve smash-and-grab incidents between November 20 and December 6. Sixteen days prior to this implementation, there were sixty-seven incidents within a sixteen day period.
Supermarkets, such as the Safeway in San Francisco, are using automatic gates and barriers around self checkout areas. They have created one exit and empty aisles have been blocked off. The side entrance has been blocked off by a giant water display.