The wave of “smash and grab” gang robberies afflicting Democratic-controlled cities in the U.S. shows an attraction for ultra-high-end auto merchandise in Chicago. Two people hit an exotic car business this past weekend, reportedly making off with $1 million worth of merchandise.
Gold Coast Auto Gallery in Chicago’s upscale retail North Side district was hit Saturday afternoon in an armed attack. One robber smashed display cases with a hammer to reach the stolen luxury watches as the other stood by the entry door brandishing a gun.
According to the store owner, Joe Petito, his armed security guards did not engage the robbers because the one watching the door did not raise his weapon. Petito said that the perpetrator was “smart enough not to raise the gun” since his guards also had weapons. He said that if the robber had pointed his weapon at anyone, he would have likely been shot on the spot.
The robbery occurred as the business was open, and ten customers were reportedly inside the premises. The entire robbery lasted less than 20 seconds, and the store has been closed to the public since. The business is now seeing customers by appointment only.
No arrests have been made.
The Associated Press has reported that the smash and grab crime wave hitting cities in 2021 has resulted in tens of billions of dollars in losses so far. Some state attorneys have asked Congress to strengthen regulation of online marketplaces where they say much of stolen property is sold to the public.
California Retailers Association president Rachel Michelin said that the level of violence seen in robberies in her state has been taken to “a whole new level” and added that “no one has seen this before.” Law enforcement officers conducted a raid of a retail theft ring in the San Francisco area earlier this month, reportedly seizing $8 million in merchandise stolen from CVS, Walgreens, and Target stores in the Bay Area.
Executives from those corporations also recently addressed Congress asking for help in an open letter, saying that criminals use the anonymity of the internet to capitalize on their brazen robberies.
Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot went on the record to blame retailers for the crime wave, saying they should be spending more on security and surveillance equipment. She did not mention the effect of the combination of curtailed law enforcement and restrictions on using force for self-defense against violent criminals.