A tidal wave of "smash-and-grab" robberies are plaguing upscale stores in major US cities, with thieves making off with millions of dollars. The latest incident occurred at a Palm Beach boutique shop that was hit twice in two weeks.
According to local news CBS 12, Only Authentics, a high-end designer bag shop, was targeted by thieves, the first on Dec. 14 and the second on Christmas Eve. Approximately $1.5 million of Hermes, Chanel, Kelly and, and Birkin handbags were stolen.
Several bags are worth more than six figures each, store owner Virgil Rogers said.
"It's almost like we're on the wild, wild west here," he told CBS12 News reporter Andrew Lofholm.
After the first break-in, Rogers said he had a special film placed on all storefront windows, making it harder to break through.
"We as citizens living on Palm Beach Island especially, we almost live in a bubble, we do, it's very sad and now it's come to the homefront and your own home, what's going on elsewhere," Rogers said.
These incidents, called smash and grabs, are well organized and allegedly conducted by criminal gangs who take the loot and resell it online. Luxury retailers from multiple California cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, to Palm Beach, have been ideal targets for robberies because of high merchandise items.
Major retailers are fed up with the rash of incidents. They have penned a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would make it harder for thieves to resell stolen goods on online marketplaces that do very little to verify the identity of sellers.
"As millions of Americans have undoubtedly seen on the news in recent weeks and months, retail establishments of all kinds have seen a significant uptick in organized crime in communities across the nation," the letter said.
Over a ten-day period in November, smash and grab robberies totaled a whopping $350 million in losses for retailers in Los Angeles.
Smash and grabs have also moved from cities to suburbs, and some are worried that criminal gangs could soon target upscale homes.