California smash and grab suspects target jewelry store
The masked thieves stole nearly $900,000 worth of jewelry from the Irvine shop, police said.
So-called “smash-and-grabs” have been on the rise in California in recent years, with a steady uptick, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California analyzes retail theft and robberies across 15 of the state’s largest counties. The report, released Tuesday, distinguishes commercial shoplifting from commercial burglary and robberies.
The would-be robber used bear spray, but the family continued to fight him off until he fled empty-handed. (Meza’s Jewelry)
Commercial shoplifting is defined as entering a commercial establishment with the intent to steal property valued at less than $950; commercial burglaries concern stolen items valued above that figure. Robberies, on the other hand, are any thefts in which force is threatened and/or used.
According to the PPIC report, commercial shoplifting jumped roughly a third from the pandemic years, commercial burglaries are more than 15% higher than in 2019, and robberies are up 13.3% in that same time frame.
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Of the 15 counties studied, Los Angeles, the state’s largest county, ranked the highest in terms of robbery increases. San Mateo and San Francisco had the highest rates of shoplifting and Kern County had the highest rates of commercial burglaries.
The problem has gotten so out of control that law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles have formed a task force to combat these thefts.
A smashed display case can be seen inside the store. (FOX11 Los Angeles KTTV)
In August, a mob ransacked a Nordstrom store in Los Angeles, and a Macy’s department store in the region was also hit last week. Other stores in Orange County, Beverly Hills, Oakland, and San Francisco have been hit as well, with thieves sometimes making off with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.
California state Assembly Republican leader James Gallagher castigated Democrats for creating an environment that has enabled criminals and restricted law enforcement.
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“What’s shocking is that despite these new numbers, Democrats are doubling down on the same failed policies that encourage these crimes,” Gallagher said. “It’s no wonder businesses around the state are giving up and shutting their doors for good.”
California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Patterson said the latest figures on burglaries are the inevitable result of failed Democratic policies like Props 47 or 57, and AB109.
“We’re seeing the repercussions of [those policies]. And not only that, but they continue to double down on these soft-on-crime policies,” Patterson told Fox News Digital. “It’s just a very, very sad reality of one-party rule in California.”
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She added: “The experiment has not worked. No one is looking at California and saying, ‘this is what we should be doing.’ And in fact, we’re seeing that with the people that are just getting up and leaving.”
Fox News Digital’s Louis Casiano contributed to this report.
Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues, and much more.