Smash and Grab Robberies & the New Task Force: What the County Can Learn from Downtown LA 

Smash-and-grab incidents have become increasingly prevalent across Los Angeles, leaving citizens and business owners concerned for their safety and economic well-being. With a recent surge in these crimes, Mayor Karen Bass, along with local law enforcement agencies, has taken a decisive step by launching a dedicated task force with a new lineup of 22 full-time investigators from various law enforcement agencies. 

Smash-and-grab robberies involve groups of individuals descending upon a single retail establishment, swiftly grabbing merchandise, and fleeing the scene. Often, business owners hesitate to intervene, opting instead to rely on insurance claims to recoup their losses. A situation leaving merchants feeling both infuriated and vulnerable. 

While Downtown Los Angeles hasn’t experienced the same level of smash-and-grab incidents as our neighboring cities, we’ve had our fair share of individuals struggling with mental health issues and robberies in broad day light, particularly in our jewelry district. 

Our special blend of luxury and chaos, may offer unique approaches for handling similar challenges to curtail these crimes, here’s some tips. 

One of the reasons why Downtown LA may not have been victim to too many smash and grabs is our traffic is pretty much unescapable.

Any flash mob trying to get out of our town with stolen vehicles is going to run straight into a sea of brake lights. If not that then a freshly turned signal light, or construction zone. Heck, robbers may even return to an empty space where their car used to be. Towing is always active here in the Big City. 

If only there was some way to increase heavy traffic and towing in front of high end retail stores outside of the DT. 

Let loose the bouncers!!!

One thing we’ve learned living in DTLA. Is that you don’t mess with the bouncers! 

If only there was some way to adopt our VIP velvet rope party treatment that commands lines from outside before entry, store owners could commence a controlled entry system that would make any nightclub owner proud. 

Just as bouncers ensure only the most exclusive guests get in, these storekeeping strongsters  could weed out suspicious fellows, check IDs, and get to know the store’s VIPs adding a touch of savvy glam to retail shopping.

Better Safe than Sorry…

In DTLA when it comes to jewelry stores, all of our treasures aren’t found through the looking glass on ground level. Some precious gems are stored high above, inside of our historic buildings, many floors up, and believe if they’re taking all those precautions to stay hidden, they’re locking their visitors in until final purchases are made. 

Anti-theft measures for ground level jewelry stores aren’t lapse one bit, our security guards pack the heat, and keep and eye out for excuses to become active. Just a few common precautions we live with here to help make sure no one gets away with lots of stolen merchandise. 

If only there was some way high-end store owners to lock their doors from the inside, trapping those pesky smash and grab criminals like animals in a trap. 

QR Code Window Shopping…

An innovative solution seen in DTLA involves the use of QR codes displayed in shop windows. See in Downtown LA, in order to call attention to an otherwise empty retail space. Many of these spaces decorate their empty ground floor with temporary interior design set ups. Plants, furnishing, even clothing may be seen through the glass windows.

Some of these items could even be up for sale, simply by providing QR codes on the windows that allow shoppers shop from the outside, giving a whole new meaning to the word window shopping. 

Hopefully, these tips and strategies derived from the successes observed in DTLA can be seamlessly integrated into Los Angeles’s efforts to combat smash-and-grab incidents.  While these ideas are all good for prevention, the question remains, what to do if you find yourself in the middle of a smash and grab in your home town:

Experts say…

Stay Calm and Observant: Keep your cool and stay alert to your surroundings. Quickly assess the situation without drawing attention to yourself.

Identify Exit Routes: Mentally note the nearest exits and escape routes. Being aware of your surroundings can help you react swiftly if needed.

Move to Safety: If possible, distance yourself from the criminals. Head toward exits or hiding spots that provide cover and concealment.

Use Concealment Objects: If you can’t escape immediately, use items around you for concealment. Large items or structures can shield you from view.

Contact Authorities: Once you’re in a safe location, call 911 or the local emergency number to report the incident and your location. Provide as much information as possible without putting yourself at risk.

Remember, your safety is the top priority. Avoid confrontations with criminals, and let law enforcement handle the situation.

Sooner or later law enforcement is  gonna catch the suspects and put and end to smash and grab robberies. With the new task force consisting of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Glendale Police Department, Burbank Police Department, Beverly Hills Police Department, Santa Monica Police Department, California Highway Patrol, along with prosecutors from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, LA City Attorney’s Office, and the California Attorney General’s Office, as soon as they catch a few and apply their particular set of skills – most likely the perpetrators are going to snitch and the smash and grab rings will fall like dominoes. 

Until then remember these tips, and just know, Downtown LA has seen it all and we’re here to help. 

Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.