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The RealReal Loses $500K in Madison Ave. Smash-and-Grab

Count The RealReal as another victim of recent “smash-and-grab” robberies. Seven thieves stole nearly $500,000 in high-priced goods including jewelry, watches and handbags from the luxury consignment store on New York City’s Upper East Side earlier this week.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is still seeking the public’s assistance to identify the seven individuals who entered the 870 Madison Avenue store around 6 p.m. on Sunday during the luxury shop’s regular operating hours.

According to the NYPD, the suspects grabbed 17 Hermes bags, two Cartier watches, and an assortment of other watches, rings and jewelry, all totaling an estimated $498,000 in value.

In a statement to Sourcing Journal, a The RealReal spokesperson described employee safety as “our top priority” and credited the store security team’s actions for “ensur[ing] no one was harmed.”

NYPD released surveillance images from Sunday's robbery at The RealReal.
NYPD released surveillance images from Sunday’s robbery at The RealReal. Courtesy of the NYPD

“As we always have, we will continue to work closely with local and federal law enforcement to prevent the trafficking of these stolen goods,” the spokesperson added. “Through LeadsOnline (the country’s largest online investigation service), we give police departments nationwide full visibility into our inventory, including details like serial numbers, photos, and data and location of consignment that can help prevent the sale of stolen goods.”

The NYPD said the store’s employees were unsuccessful in stopping the seven suspects from fleeing. Surveillance images released late Wednesday show two of the alleged thieves, as well as a white four-door sedan used by at least one of the suspects.

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The NYPD is looking for a white sedan in connection with the robbery at The RealReal.
The NYPD is looking for a white sedan in connection with the robbery at The RealReal. Courtesy of the NYPD

Earlier this month, a group of five shoplifters stole $48,300 worth of luxury goods from another high-end Manhattan store, a Celine boutique in Soho. The same shop was also targeted by looters in a $1.5 million heist in 2020.

The NYPD on Thursday said it’s unsure if The RealReal incident is connected to a larger theft pattern.

Retail crime, particularly in the form of these quick hit “smash-and-grab” sprees, has become headache for merchants throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in high-density urban areas. Cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and have all battled a slew of thefts that have forced retailers to find new ways to make their stores more secure, whether by hiring their own armed private security, working with local law enforcement or boarding up windows.

Pharmacy giant Walgreens had to shutter five San Francisco locations in October, after closing 17 in the prior five years due to the widespread theft. Jason Cunningham, Walgreens’ regional vice president, told San Francisco officials last May that stores in the city face theft four times the average versus anywhere else.

And in New York City, crimes like robbery, burglary and grand larceny have increased heavily since January 2021, putting more retail stores in the nation’s largest metropolis at risk. Robberies jumped 33.1 percent to 1,251 in January 2022, burglaries saw an uptick of 7.5 percent to 1,189, and grand larcenies soared 58.1 percent to 4,047 instances.

A case of grand larceny means suspects steal at least $1,000 worth of goods—a threshold the crime at the Madison Avenue RealReal store far surpassed.

Retailers in general are perceptive of the ongoing issues with organized retail crime in recent years. More than two-thirds (69.4 percent) of retailers said the pandemic increased the overall risk for their organization, according to NRF’s 2021 National Retail Security Survey, with 50 percent specifically pointing to a rise in shoplifting.

The “smash-and-grab” problem has created an even bigger burden for smaller businesses that don’t always have the stable financial backing to recover like a nationwide chain would. This is the case in an incident that occurred Feb. 15, when six unidentified men stole approximately $25,000 worth of merchandise from Atlanta streetwear boutique Toussaint Namdi Clothing.

The luxury streetwear store sells goods priced well over $1,000, including items from designers such as Gucci, Givenchy, and Chrome of Hearts.

Caught on the retailer’s surveillance footage, the men dressed in black with black masks entered the location at the same time and spread across the store. When the lone employee visible in the video asks if she can help them find anything, they begin snatching T-shirts and other items from clothing racks and shelves before running out the front door. One of the suspects even took a mannequin as well.

A still of the footage from Toussaint Namdi's security cameras.
A still of the footage from Toussaint Namdi’s security cameras. Courtesy of the Atlanta Police Department

“From when they started grabbing stuff until they left out the door it was 60 seconds…gone in 60 seconds,” said Kasson Smith, co-owner of Toussaint Namdi Clothing, in an interview with Atlanta’s local CBS affiliate, WGCL-TV. “It was like a movie, like you couldn’t believe it.”

Smith said the store will remain closed and will exclusively sell online until the company’s planned reopening on March 17 with armed security.

The Toussaint Namdi Clothing robbery took place only a few days after a group of women targeted a Marc Jacobs store in the city’s Lenox Square shopping center.

On Feb. 12, around 11 a.m., four or five women entered the store and began to grab handbags before fleeing. The group is accused of stealing nearly $2,500 worth of merchandise.

These types of coordinated thefts are also occurring on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas. In Detroit suburb Allen Park, two men stole approximately $500 in goods from a Durham’s Sports location on Feb. 20. Employees at the store told police they observed the suspects feeling in a late-model gray sedan.

The employees said the two thieves walked into the store at 5:18 p.m. and began selecting an assortment of clothing. The first man to enter the store was a bald white man with a beard, who was wearing a red/gray jacket and blue jeans. The second man, also white, had dark hair and wore a black hoodie and black pants.