The “smash-and-grab” burglaries overwhelming retailers in recent months forced one small business owner to close up shop.
KKG Kickz, a boutique footwear store in Little Canada, Minn., is shuttering operations after five burglaries targeted the suburban Minneapolis location over the span of six months. The latest incident, which took place overnight on Feb. 23, saw thieves make off with approximately $13,000 worth of athletic footwear.
KKG Kickz owner Walter Dillon said the retailer lost a total of $30,000 worth of merchandise in five robberies, including 250 left-foot sneakers and 20 complete pairs.
Local ABC news affiliate KSTP-TV aired surveillance footage of the burglary showing three unidentified men wearing masks, hoodies and gloves smashing the glass front door, then walking in and looting high-end sneaker store.
The suspects then stuffed footwear into plastic bags before running out and driving away. Dillon said the final robbery was over in a matter of minutes.
In late February, luxury consignment store The RealReal lost more than $500,000 in jewelry, watches and handbags in a similar robbery at its Madison Ave. Manhattan store.
But such incidents are much worse for enterprises like KKG Kickz even if the total damages don’t reach The RealReal’s half-million-dollar hit, as small businesses often lack the infrastructure to continually replenish inventory and fix broken and damaged shelves, fixtures and doors.
“I don’t even believe what’s on the TV screen when I see it. It’s devastating,” Dillon told KSTP-TV. “It’s so awful to see something that I worked for, worked really hard for, dreamed about, executed—to see it all blow away like that is heartbreaking.”
Currently, the store’s front door is covered with plywood, while the back door is now reinforced with bolted-on two-by-fours.
Dillon added that he is considering donating the footwear stored in a backroom that the thieves didn’t steal. But for now, he’s shuttering the store and mulling the possibility of reopening at another location in the future.
Meanwhile, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office told KSTP-TV it is investigating the burglary and checking to see if there are similar cases elsewhere in the metro area.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office didn’t respond to Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.
Tealicious Boba, a bubble tea shop located next door to KKG Kickz, encountered a similar situation in early February. Owner Siry Yang said he received a call at approximately 4:00 a.m. that his store’s alarm was triggered.
Yang says the men who broke into Tealicious Boba did so through a back entrance, but looked around and left without taking anything.
“It does scare us a lot,” Yang told the news affiliate. “During the night I’m leaving by myself and I do worry about safety, so we want to make sure everyone else is safe too, not just ourselves.”
Organized retail crime (ORC) in general has seen an uptick since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when nonessential stores were forced to close for nearly two months. There’s abound as to why ORC is on the rise, including societal changes such as new law enforcement and prosecution policies, as well as increasing social unrest in many cities. And from a consumer behavior perspective, the shift to more digital spending could incentivize shoplifters to make a quick sale of stolen items online.
A 2021 National Retail Federation (NRF) study said that roughly 69 percent of the trade organization’s reporting members had seen an increase in overall risk for their retail operations since 2020. Nearly 57 percent say ORC activity in particular has gotten worse since March of that year, while 50 percent said shoplifting in general has become a more widespread problem.
Like the KKG Kickz burglary, more of these crimes occur in big cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, as well as their immediate suburbs. Suspects in a recent smash-and-grab targeting a Neiman Marcus in the Chicago-area suburb of Oak Brook, Ill. spirited away $17,000 in merchandise.
Ahead of the 2020 holiday season, Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton, Bloomingdales and Burberry stores in California dealt with a string of these robberies. And a sequence of separate thefts of Nike products occurred in Memphis. While a DHL warehouse employee was arrested for stealing $60,000 of Nike products from the facility she worked at, thieves targeting two separate Hibbett Sports locations stole more than $40,000 worth of Nike goods.
Retail theft plagued stores even prior to the pandemic. Repeated incidents at Walgreens locations in San Francisco led the pharmacy giant to close five locations in the area in October, after shuttering 17 locations in the prior five years due to the rampant robberies. The retailer’s regional vice president Jason Cunningham told city officials last May that stores in San Francisco face theft at four times the average versus elsewhere.