Preventing Flash Robberies: How to Stop Smash & Grab Crime

How to Stop Smash & Grab Crime and Flash Robberies

Smash & grab robbery has become a massive issue in the United States. From stores with high-value inventory such as jewelers to more accessible convenience stores, no storefront is safe from this surging form of retail crime. Your business, inventory, and staff need protection — this comprehensive guide can help. Read on to learn about:

  1. What is Smash & Grab Crime?
  2. How Big is the Smash & Grab Crime Problem in the U.S.?
  3. How Can Businesses Stop Smash & Grab Crimes?
    1. Operational Security Measures
      1. Staff Security Training
      2. Surveillance Security Systems
    2. Physical Security Measures
      1. Smash-Proof Security Windows

What is Smash & Grab Crime?

Smash & grab crime refers to a specific form of theft involving burglars “smashing” a barrier, typically a glass display window, and “grabbing” valuables inside, such as jewelry, electronics, or watches. Once stolen, burglars will often attempt a quick exit, trying to escape before authorities arrive.

Thieves are opportunistic, and often take advantage of ripe circumstances for smash & grab crime. For example, amidst the chaos of riots, law enforcement can be scattered; in turn, riots are prime time for smash & grab burglary. Thieves will also target stores without significant protection measures, such as a noticeable lack of security personnel, un-reinforced glass, or no alarm system. In turn, it’s essential for businesses to ensure they have ample security to dissuade thieves.

Smash & grab thieves will also often attack in large groups, known colloquially as “organized theft rings” or “flash mobs.” These groups are nearly impossible to stop without glass reinforcements, swarming stores and overwhelming clerks.

How Big is the Smash & Grab Crime Problem in the U.S.?

How Big is the Smash & Grab Crime Problem in the U.S.?

Retail crime has surged in the United States, including return fraud, cargo theft, flash robbery, and smash & grab crime. According to the National Retail Federation, 57% of retailers fell victim to organized crime in 2021. This means a majority of retail stores faced some sort of criminal activity — scary odds for stores. Meanwhile, 65% of survey respondents noted an increase in gang aggression, compared to 57% in 2019.

Why, then, has smash & grab crime in particular become such a problem? In an interview with CNN, security professional Lynda Buel explains that the threshold for felony theft ranges from $500-$950 — meaning many smash & grab burglars will only be charged with a misdemeanor. With a potentially smaller risk of punishment and an overall increase in levels of aggression, smash & grab crime is a growing problem for modern retailers.

How Can Businesses Stop Smash & Grab Crimes?

With smash & grab crime becoming such a massive problem, retailers need to take the appropriate security measures to protect themselves from crime — for customers, staff, and inventory alike. Security measures against smash & grab crime can break down into two main categories: operational security measures and physical security measures.

Operational Security Measures

Operational security measures provide retail stores with means to counter smash & grab crime with swift security responses, better equipped personnel for theft, and overall more dynamic means of risk management. These measures are less about protecting physical glass cases and more about preparing storefronts for security threats at large.

Staff Security Training

When smash & grab criminals strike, store employees may be struck by panic. Thieves are often violent and loud, causing staff to experience shock and fear for their own lives rather than take action to protect themselves and the store.

Staff security training prepares your employees for potential situations of duress, empowering them to take action rather than freeze in fear. Training can help your staff learn to:

  • Identify risk scenarios before they occur.
  • Understand duress scenarios and best responses.
  • Leverage non-violent interventions.
  • Harness de-escalation and/or swift calls to law enforcement.

Whatever the exact training, security training for staff can provide immense benefits to employees when faced with smash & grab crime, minimizing both initial panic and lasting trauma.

Surveillance Security Systems

When stores are unmonitored, smash & grab criminals can escape stores without repercussions far more easily. Law enforcement may have to rely solely on eyewitness accounts, making it harder to apprehend potential suspects.

Retail store surveillance security systems ensure there’s a physical record of smash & grab crime, allowing law enforcement to gain a more accurate picture of what was stolen and who committed the crime. Using footage from surveillance systems, law enforcement can gain the exact time a thief entered your store, what exactly they were wearing, and even detect the direction they escaped after the crime — all immensely useful in capturing assailants and bringing them to justice.

How Can Businesses Stop Smash & Grab Crimes?

Physical Security Measures

Physical security measures refer to physical security reinforcements placed upon glass display cases to make smash & grab robbery more difficult for potential assailants. There are diverse ways to reinforce glass, but we recommend smash-resistant security windows.

Smash-Resistant Security Windows

While typical glass shatters & breaks at the impact of blunt force, shatter-resistant security windows absorb impacts to remain intact. For smash & grab crime, this impact-resistance poses a sizable barrier to potential thieves. What once was a simple case of smashing & grabbing now becomes far more complicated, spurring frustration in thieves and potentially causing them to vacate your storefront once their initial plan is foiled.

Designed specifically to prevent smash & grab crime, we recommend installing CaseShield™ for display case shatter-resistance. Made of polycarbonate — a substance offering 250x the strength of traditional glass — CaseShield™ overlays over existing glass cases for seamless, unobtrusive installation. Its frame is held together with a patent pending security anchoring system, locking into place and providing even greater security. Additionally, CaseShield™ is nearly invisible upon installation; potential thieves will have no idea what hit them.

Preventing Robberies Using Reinforced Glass Retrofits From DefenseLite

Even in the face of surging smash & grab crime, storefronts can minimize potential theft using effective operational and physical security measures — including retrofit security glazing. Higher risk of smash & grab crime, however, is indicative of an increasingly dangerous world at large. Stores need to prepare for threats beyond smash & grab crime, and reinforce glass for indoor display cases, exterior windows, and other vulnerable places.

DefenseLite offers comprehensive engineered security glazing retrofits, providing immense glass impact-resistance from smash & grab crime, rioters, active shooters, and more. To bolster security on your property, find a DefenseLite dealer today.