Who is behind 'smash-and-grab' crime wave? Officials helpless as shocking trend continues

Authorities have responded by stepping up patrols across the Golden State, but many are wondering who is to blame for the recent uptick in crime


                            Who is behind 'smash-and-grab' crime wave? Officials helpless as shocking trend continues
Recent weeks have seen gangs of crooks armed with hammers and crowbars smashing their way into high-end stores across California (Twitter/NBCNews)

A string of "smash and grab" heists have rocked California of late, especially at luxury stores across the Golden State.

Recent weeks have seen gangs of crooks armed with hammers and crowbars smashing their way into high-end stores and taking off with tens of thousands of dollars in goods. While authorities have responded by stepping up patrols and increasing security around stores, many are wondering who is to blame for the recent uptick in crime.

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Earlier this week, so-called 'smash-and-grab' gangs struck a Nordstrom in Canoga Park, Los Angeles, taking nearly $25,000 of high-end luxury goods and bear spraying a security guard on their way out. Another Nordstrom store was raided in Walnut Creek, east of San Francisco, with at least 90 looters entering the branch and making off with luxury goods in a matter of minutes. Police described the incident as "organized theft" and said it was "clearly a planned event." Meanwhile, four young men stormed into an Apple Store in Santa Rose on Wednesday morning and took off with $20,000 in goods.



 

 

It also emerged that eight people headed to a Home Depot store in Lakewood, California, to steal goods. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the thieves "selected various hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars approximate value of 400 dollars." Palo Alto police announced Wednesday that two women had been arrested in connection with a Sunday night attempt to steal items from a RealReal clothing boutique downtown. According to the authorities, at least 30 to 40 people arrived in some 20 cars and tried to break down the glass front door but it held. Police responded to a call by a security guard and stopped the women in a car with at least $15,000 in clothes from a second RealReal location that was burglarized in Larkspur earlier that night. Police also revealed how five people were charged with thefts in San Francisco and nine people were charged in connection with Friday night attacks on stores including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Bloomingdale's in the downtown area and in Union Square, a coveted area teeming with tourists and shoppers.



 

 



 

 

Having said that, as these 'smash-and-grab' robberies continue to rise during the holiday shopping season, light penalties are being blamed for the crime spree. Rick Caruso, a billionaire businessman and owner of The Grove, blasted local leaders for not doing enough to address the crime wave. According to CBS LA, Caruso has toyed with the idea of running for mayor of Los Angeles. “I think it’s a manifestation of weak leadership. I think it’s a manifestation of some really bad decisions that our leaders made. It’s a manifestation of we’re going to defund the cops,” Caruso told the outlet.



 

 

Meanwhile, the Democrat Governor of California Gavin Newsom stressed the need for better prosecution and harsher penalties for suspects. “I have no sympathy or empathy for people smashing and grabbing, stealing people’s items, creating havoc and terror in our streets. None,” he said. However, many believe that this status quo is a result of years of liberal lawmakers watering down penalties for such acts.

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