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Streetwear Store Robbery Highlights Main Street’s ‘Smash-and-Grab’ Problem

A streetwear boutique was of one three Detroit businesses hit by “smash-and-grab” robberies in a span of 48 hours.

On Monday morning, a group of unidentified thieves smashed a truck into the front of High Rollers Denim before looting the apparel and sneakers store. Two other similar robberies, both also reportedly starting with a truck crashing into the storefront, occurred in the two days after at an AT&T store and Bank of America location.

A report from Detroit ABC news affiliate WXYZ-TV said the Detroit Police Department is currently looking into how much was stolen at each location, and if there is a definite link between the incidents.

There has been no report of what, or how much, merchandise the thieves took from the boutique.

High Rollers Denim and the Detroit Police Department did not immediately return Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.

Stolen goods aren’t the only expenses typically incurred when a “smash-and-grab” takes place. Often, retailers sustain property damage that requires significant repair. And this can be debilitating for smaller businesses like High Rollers Denim, which only operates one brick-and-mortar store. One such example occurred earlier this year when Minneapolis-area footwear seller KKG Kickz shuttered its doors after five burglaries in six months forced its hand.

High Rollers Denim’s Facebook page indicates the store is still closed.

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WXYZ indicated that the glass windows were shattered in the High Rollers Denim smash-and-grab, with only one window pane on the front of the store still intact amid the cleanup efforts. The door was taken out entirely. Remnants of the damaged windows and door, presumably marred by the truck upon impact, could be seen laying on the storefront’s sidewalk and parking lot.

The nationwide “smash-and-grab” retail crime spree comes amid criticism that the offense still carries low risk for would-be offenders.

Retailers are largely in favor of increasing penalties for theft, and reducing felony thresholds: 70.8 percent of retailers reported increases in organized retail crime (ORC) in areas where felony thresholds have increased, according to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

More than half (54.6 percent) reported that initiatives to reduce or eliminate cash bail have been associated with a substantial increase in repeat offenses, while 15.2 percent reported a moderate increase. And while 30.3 percent reported that there had been no change in repeat offenses, no retailers said there was a decrease.

Lawmakers introduce Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act

On Friday, U.S. House Representatives Ken Buck (R-Col.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) and Ted Budd (R-NC), introduced the bipartisan Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act that would create a federal organized retail crime task force. This legislation specifically targets “smash-and-grab” robberies as well as intricate retail theft schemes like the $20 million crime ring that authorities busted in Texas earlier this year.

The House measure serves as a companion to another bill with the same name. The Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act was already presented in the Senate by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) late last month.

Both versions of the act would establish a central center to combat ORC, which would facilitate information sharing between agencies. Additionally, federal judges could order criminal forfeiture after ORC convictions.

“The explosion of organized, smash-and-grab looting of retail stores is a symptom of the underlying collapse of law and order in America under the Biden administration,” said Congressman Buck in a statement. “These stolen goods are then typically resold on the internet by sophisticated interstate criminal networks. This bipartisan, bicameral bill will help law enforcement stop future attacks by improving coordination in the federal bureaucracy and ensuring that crimes of this type are appropriately punished.”

The bill has been endorsed by trade and law enforcement associations, including NRF, Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Innovating Commerce Serving Communities (ICSC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD.

“Key to curtailing the proliferation of ORC is increasing collaboration, information sharing, and transparency among stakeholders,” said Michael Hanson, senior executive vice president, public affairs, Retail Industry Leaders Association, in a statement. “The legislation introduced in the House today would do just that. By establishing a federal task force to help track and prosecute criminals, we can help curb what has become a $69 billion problem for American businesses, a major safety concern for communities, and in many cases, a marker of larger criminal activity at play such as human trafficking, gun smuggling, narcotics and terrorism.”

The Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act is often associated with another bill that was introduced to Congress in 2021 but has gotten increased attention amid the retail crime wave.

The INFORM Consumers Act, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in March 2021, is designed to modernize consumer protection laws, particularly by requiring online marketplaces to collect and verify basic business information from sellers before they are permitted to sell online.

In addition, the legislation would require high-volume sellers to provide contact information to consumers.

The legislation has not been put to a vote, but has since been included in the Senate version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which advanced to the Senate floor on Tuesday.