Smash and grab robberies are pretty much what they sound like. The perpetrators enter a jewelry store and, in front of store employees and customers, whip out tools like sledgehammers, smash the hammers through the glass displays, and grab expensive pieces of jewelry before taking off.
The speed and violence of their actions stun and frighten potential witnesses.
In addition to the threat of violence from these criminals, there have been instances of innocent bystanders actually getting hurt during the robberies. And these types of robberies around the United States have been proliferating.
Quickly sold for cash
Once the jewelry is stolen, it’s relatively easy to transport it to whichever fence the criminals do business with so it can be quickly sold for cash, which can then be used to finance other crimes the groups may be committing.
In recent days, law enforcement has made progress against one group of suspected robbers. Three separate indictments have been filed in early 2015 against 17 individuals from the metropolitan Detroit area who are believed to be responsible for a number of smash and grab robberies of jewelry stories in a half-dozen states.
The charges involve violations of the Hobbs Act, which makes it a crime to obstruct, delay, or affect interstate commerce by robbery.
The indictments follow a series of investigations around the nation involving about 40 smash and grab jewelry store robberies. Authorities also announced they are looking for the public’s help in identifying 16 other individuals believed to be connected to additional smash and grab robberies.
State and national borders
At first glance, these robberies seem like local crimes. Not always. Often times, the stolen merchandise crosses state and sometimes national borders, so a nationwide approach in necessary. Also, the robberies are being increasingly committed by organized criminal enterprises that operate in multiple jurisdictions and are often involved in other kinds of organized crime activity.
The investigation that resulted in the Detroit indictments was conducted by a multiagency task force and involved coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies around the country, and private participants in the jewelry industry.
The fallout from these smash and grab robberies is devastating. Store employees and customers are traumatized when faced with the threat of violence. Jewelry stores suffer tremendous losses, as do the insurance companies that pay the resulting claims.
Stores also spend additional money to enhance their security measures by hiring security guards, upgrading the strength of their display cases, installing or augmenting video monitoring equipment, etc. And eventually, over time, the fallout could hit the public at large, with higher insurance costs and higher prices at the jewelry store.