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How To Improve Retailer Security Against Smash-and-Grab Theft in 2022

Written By: Brad CampbellOctober 2, 2021

Smash-and-grab theft is a specific form of burglary in which the thieves smash a barrier to gain access to items, grab them, and run off with them. 

glass storefront

The criminals usually smash a storefront window or a display case without worrying about setting off alarms or making noise that draws attention — their goal is to grab the most expensive things they can see and get away as quickly as possible before they get caught.

Smash-and-grab theft is something that retailers have always had to worry about, but it has been in the news a lot more lately, so we wanted to write this article with tips for improving retailer security against this particular type of burglary.

polycarbonate jewelry store glass protection

Is Smash-and-Grab Theft on the Rise in Major US Cities?

In recent months, a series of high-profile smash-and-grab thefts in major US cities have made the headlines.

On the West Coast, cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco have been especially hard hit by retail crime, but the trend has been reported across the United States, from California to Florida.

What exactly is happening with this new retailer security concern?

In all the stories that have been making headlines, the thieves targeted high-end and luxury retail stores, including department stores, designer brand stores, and jewelry shops. Burglars targeting luxury retailers probably doesn’t surprise you, but wait till you hear the next part…

In many of these recent smash-and-grab thefts, the modus operandi of the burglars is to overwhelm retail security by descending on stores with what news outlets are calling “flash mobs,” or hoards, of masked individuals wielding hammers and other burglary tools.

hammer hitting glass

They then smash as many barriers as possible to access high-value merchandise, snatch it up, and run off in different directions to various getaway vehicles waiting outside.

In some cases, as many as 80 burglars have been involved in these thefts, and the thieves have made off with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of luxury goods.

Why does organized retail crime appear to be increasing?

There are all kinds of theories about what is really going on here. Some people think that organized crime is behind the recent rash of smash-and-grab burglaries, while others think the pandemic is to blame. Another theory purports that viral videos are just making people more aware of a retailer security issue that is nothing new.

But, whether organized retail theft is really on the rise or is just making the headlines more than usual because of viral videos doesn’t really matter. What matters is that retailers are aware of the risks and take the necessary steps to protect their stores and merchandise from this type of burglary.

Retailer Security Tips for Preventing Smash-and-Grab Burglary

Traditional retail security systems that include monitored video surveillance, alarms, and security guards are great to have, and work to deter certain types of retail theft and burglary. 

But, they do little to prevent mass smash-and-grab thefts, like those discussed above, from happening. In most cases in the news, the majority of the criminals get away, and here’s why:

  • They don’t care about setting off alarms
  • They cover their faces, so they don’t care about cameras
  • There are too many of them for security personnel to stop
  • They get in and out before the authorities have time to arrive

As we said above, cameras, alarms, and security guards are great deterrents, but they all have one thing in common: they don’t create a physical barrier to prevent burglars from gaining access to valuable merchandise.

Most retail stores, even high-end ones, use some type of tempered safety glass to protect merchandise. Though stronger than standard annealed glass, tempered glass is not designed to be impact resistant. It is meant to break apart safely to prevent injury in the event of an accident (that’s why they use it for car windows, too). 

forced entry

How can luxury retailers improve retailer security and protect merchandise?

If only there were some type of glass, or glass-like product, that retailers could use instead of tempered glass to create a physical barrier to forced entry and smash-and-grab theft, while still displaying merchandise and allowing customers to window shop…

Oh, wait, let us introduce you to Riot Glass® and ArmorPlast®! The Riot Glass® RG series of laminated security glass and the ArmorPlast® AP line of polycarbonate glazing shields can both provide invisible, yet virtually indestructible, physical protection against retail theft.

What’s the best smash-and-grab protection for retail security?

When your main concern is preventing smash-and-grab theft and other types of burglary, we highly recommend retrofitting your storefront and display case glass with ArmorPlast® AP25. These polycarbonate glazing panels offer the best in containment-grade (non-ballistic) access denial.

What you need to know about ArmorPlast® AP25:

  • Single-layer, 1/4” polycarbonate glazing sheet
  • Does not require glass removal to install (retrofit solution)
  • Cannot be smashed using hammers, sledgehammers, crowbars, or other tools
  • Protects existing glass from breaking to avoid emergency board ups
  • Deters would-be burglars and denies forced entry/smash-and-grab theft
  • Gives the authorities time to arrive during forced entry attempts
  • Looks and feels like traditional storefront glass

Our Final Words

Naturally, luxury retailers aren’t going to go for old-school access denial solutions, such as bars and grates. Though they can keep the bad guys out, these options are unsightly, detract from the curb appeal of your business, and inhibit window shopping.

bars and grills on sliding glass doors

So, if you own a high-end retail store, you need something like AP25 that lets you retain the appearance and functionality of your storefront windows and display cases, but that can’t be smashed by would-be thieves.

In the unfortunate event that your store is targeted by organized retail thieves for a mass smash-and-grab theft, the criminals are going to be quite surprised when they find their attempts to quickly smash their way through your glass are not going to work.

They will either be deterred and move on from your store, or the delay and confusion caused will give security personnel and police time to arrive and deal with the criminals.

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Looking for residential protection? At Riot Glass, we specialize in protecting your property with our patented bullet-resistant system, designed specifically for aluminium framed windows. Not sure if Riot Glass is right for your home? Explore our FAQs.
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