Police are stepping up their presence at malls and shopping centers across the U.S. this Black Friday weekend amid a spike of so called "smash-and-grab" robberies.
Videos of the chaotic robberies - showing masked figures breaking into stores, running out with bags of merchandise, and fleeing in cars idling outside - have flooded social media in recent days,
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to local media that a California location of luxury Italian merchandiser Bottega Veneta was the site of a robbery Friday...
And this store selling designer jeans was forced to close its doors after it was hit on Friday night as well.
Mall operators and shopkeepers are taking note and are doing what they can, says Louis Schillace of Westfield Century City in L.A.
"We a monitoring the situation with smash and grabs robberies around the country very closely. We have a great relationship with LAPD and local authorities and are working with them to make sure we’re fully prepared."
The brazen robberies started at high-end shops like Nordstrom earlier in the week, but now the robberies are spreading to more middle-of-the-road retailers as well.
(SOT: Scott Konasinski, Palo Alto)
“It’s almost movie-like, Hollywood like."
In Chicago, three shops were looted on Black Friday in just about an hour.
First, it was a Footlocker….
then North Face….
followed by Boost Mobile.
The retail industry is nervous about the spate of robberies, which are happening at a time when retailers are trying to recoup dollars lost during the health crisis, while grappling with product shortages at the most important shopping season of the year.
Police officers are beefing up their presence but so far that hasn’t deterred the robbers.
In an ominous sign, there was a smash and grab Friday at a Home Depot in Lakewood, California, just 23 miles from Los Angeles, where robbers made off with sledgehammers, crowbars and hammers... Police telling local media they feared more smash and grabs were in the works.