In the world of retail loss and retail shrinkage in Atlanta this story that was recently published in the AJC really hits the nail on the head.
Arielle Kass, October 7, 2010
Sharla Jackson can rattle off a list of stores that have closed due to smash-and-grab crimes over the past three years.
Since July, a new state law has imposed tougher penalties on those convicted of smash-and-grabs, in which thieves bust through windows, walls, roofs or doors then snatch merchandise like jeans or flat-screen TVs to resell. It comes as the number of such crimes is the highest it’s been in years said Jackson, senior assistant district attorney in the Fulton County district attorney’s office and a member of the retail theft task force.
With 132 smash-and-grabs so far this year, the count is already ahead of 2008, when there were 130 instances in metro Atlanta’s five biggest counties. Last year, there were 119 smash-and-grabs; in 2007, there were 97, according to the task force.
“They do it so quickly, it makes it difficult for them to be apprehended,” Jackson said. “They steal thousands of dollars of merchandise in a very short period of time.”
The latest happened Tuesday at Urban Outfitters on Ponce de Leon Avenue at North Highland Avenue. The chain declined to comment.
Metro Atlanta saw more than 300 incidents from 2007 to 2009, said Angelica Rodriguez, senior director of loss prevention for the National Retail Federation. The losses totaled more than $3 million, and Rodriguez said because not all incidents are reported to the organization, that is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
A new state law that took effect in July defined the crime and lengthened minimum sentences, ensuring that juveniles who are arrested for smash-and-grabs causing at least $500 worth of damage are subject to up to five years of custody. Adults who solicit juveniles for the crime serve between one and five years of jail time, and minimum sentences for participating adults were extended to two years.
It is still too early to know if the new laws will deter the crime, Jackson said, but she noted that the issue is a problem outside Atlanta’s city limits.
Smash-and-grabs happen “As far north as Dawsonville, up at the outlets . . . It’s not just an Atlanta issue, it’s an issue that affects so many businesses.”
Rodriguez, of the National Retail Federation, said thieves have moved on to department and electronics stores as boutique owners have enhanced security. Now, they also often target ATMs in grocery and convenience stores.
House of Adrene, on Peters Street in Castleberry Hill, had been hit several times at its old location, manager Erica Morton said. Since moving down the street in March, the store’s owner has taken measures to prevent the thefts, including locking up the denim that was a frequent target.
The crimes are worse in metro Atlanta than elsewhere, said John Heavener, president of the Georgia Retail Association. Jackson said that is because Atlanta has a large retail concentration and is near several highways. The stolen property can show up at flea markets, in online stores or on the street.
Small business owners don’t often have large security budgets, Jackson said, and are selling inventory so they can buy new inventory with their earnings. When those items are taken, they can’t pay to replenish their stock and repair the damage. Retailers hit more than once may be dropped from insurance, and Jackson said it can be impossible for a business to stay open.
“It’s a huge deal for retailers,” she said. “In a poor economy, you don’t want to have to pass those losses on to customers.”
If you are a retailer do not just sit back. Get involved. Join the Georgia Retail Association (GRA) and make sure your voice is heard on the smash and grab epidemic that is occurring. Prevent retail loss and retail shrinkage . You never know your store could be next.
For more information about retail shrinkage in Atlanta contact us at retail loss or call 1.866.914.2567