Smash and grab incidents are on the rise and occur daily, indicating that criminals are targeting various types of stores, ranging from luxury brands to convenience stores, and engaging in theft. Sometimes, this involves breaking into the shop through windows, while other times, the criminals simply walk in, grab items from the shelves, and take whatever they want.

Los Angeles has many mom-and-pop shops and small local stores that could become targets of such robberies. What measures can these local stores take to protect themselves and safeguard their small businesses from these attacks?

Emergency Preparedness To Combat Smash-and-Grabs

As smash-and-grabs and street attacks have drastically risen in Los Angeles, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and preparedness. However, specific emergency preparedness plans and strategies may vary depending on the location and the type of business. It’s advisable to consult with local law enforcement agencies and security experts. Here are some tips on how individuals and businesses can stay safe in such a situation.

Enhanced Security Measures

Of course, the store will have CCTV cameras to pick up who the thief is, but more is needed to protect the people and property inside the store. Implement security measures to deter potential smash-and-grab incidents.

Unfortunately, California politicians have passed a law that says that if you try to stop a shoplifter in your store, the store can be fined $20,000. Take a recent example: at a small Chinese supermarket, a man came in and was in the process of stealing items. When the female cashier tried to stop him, he attacked her, and she almost lost her eye.

Arming Yourself

What could they have done? Because it is private property, store owners could potentially arm themselves with a firearm behind the counter. One complication is that gun ownership entails understanding all the safety complexities that come with it and taking extra precautions. This might only sometimes be feasible for smaller stores or shop owners. It may not even be possible for them to receive proper training in using the firearm if they lack access to training resources or cannot spare enough time away from their business.

Some shop owners might also prefer to store the gun out of sight, in a locked box or cupboard. However, this renders it useless, as retrieving the firearm during an attack or burglary might not be swift enough. They might also feel uncomfortable using the weapon, worrying that an innocent shopper could be hit if they fire it. This illustrates that if small businesses choose this security route, they must carefully plan their approach, invest time in training with the weapon, and fully comprehend how to use and store it.

Other options include having a bat or baton and pepper spray. In fact, every shop owner should carry pepper spray and encourage staff to do the same. If they notice a suspicious individual entering the store premises, having pepper spray in hand can help them feel confident and prepared if the person turns out to be a thief or poses a danger. When someone demands money, deploying pepper spray can often deter the criminal from further actions. If the individual is armed, the cashier or store owner may opt for using a baseball bat or a firearm due to the severity of the threat.

In California, obtaining a CCW weapons permit to carry a gun is also possible. Shop owners are likely to receive this permit if their store has been robbed multiple times, and they strive to protect themselves, their staff, customers, and their business. It is highly recommended to find ways to protect themselves and their workers, even when the business owner is not present.

Choosing Armed Security

Another recommended option is investing in armed security. While this may not always be feasible for stores, luxury brands, and high-end establishments should consider investing in armed security. Being ‘armed’ doesn’t just refer to firearms; it also includes non-lethal options like pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs for making a citizen’s arrest. A citizen’s arrest occurs when armed private security detains a criminal, holding them until the police arrive to make an official arrest.

WPG does not recommend the use of unarmed security. Unarmed security, present solely for observation and reporting, carries limitations. Often, their role is limited to surveillance, such as taking photographs of criminals or contacting the police. While this service holds value, it can prove ineffective, especially during violent robberies. Criminals are unlikely to be deterred if unarmed security merely observes without intervening.

Furthermore, unarmed security personnel can sometimes appear unimposing, merely sitting and observing or potentially being distracted by other occurrences on the sidewalk or their phone. Criminals are more inclined to target stores with unarmed security, avoiding those protected by armed security.

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