Rash of smash and grab robberies 'scary' for North Carolina small businesses

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The front door at J'Adore Boutique has been repaired and the staff is again welcoming customers to shop after a brazen "smash-and-grab" theft.

Tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-end handbags were snatched in 30 seconds.

Similar scenes have played out on the West Coast.

Thieves in California were seen rushing stores. A security guard at one spot was pepper-sprayed.

"This is not your typical shoplifter that's stealing a pair of sunglasses. These are organized crime rings," said North Carolina Retail Merchant Association president Andy Ellen.

The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association said it has been keeping in contact with law enforcement and encouraging small business owners to take precautions.

"These retailers have worked really hard to get through COVID and make sure they stayed in business, provided jobs, collected sales tax, and were a fabric of their community. To see violence or other acts of theft in their stores is really disheartening at such a crucial time, especially as we head into the holidays--where it's very key to them making it to the other side of COVID that they do well financially," said Ellen.

ABC11 reached out to several business owners to see if they're worried about similar thefts. Nobody wanted to speak out publically, fearing they could become a target.

A Triangle security company suggested several ways to keep businesses safe.

Sonitrol Integrated Security Sales Director Jeff Debronzo said steps include installing shatter-resistant glass, an alarm system, a panic button, and cameras with audio capability.

There's another option that costs much less and could protect merchandise and revenue this holiday season.

"Even to an existing window, you can apply a film that makes it much harder to break in through the glass - whether that's into a building or incasing merchandise. Anything that gives law enforcement more time to respond (is good)," said Debronzo.

The Raleigh Police Department is also offering some tips. One is to install a mantrap or door buzzer to control who enters a store.
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.