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Security 2015: Preventing Crash & Grab Burglaries in your Business

I am sure most of you have heard of “crash & grab” crime, which has been happening recently. My first thought is, “What type of alarm system do they have? What about the video surveillance footage?” For being in the industry for so long, we understand there’s no perfect security solution. The best thing to do is to layer up the security defenses as much as possible. Plus, there’s no “one size fits all”. Having a thorough security assessment, and tailor-made security system design will help in the long run.

Chicago police are investigating a series of so-called crash-and-grab burglaries in which thieves crash a vehicle through a storefront, and then steal whatever is in sight. Within just a minute or two, the thieves dash out over the broken glass to a waiting getaway car.

These burglaries are not entirely new. In London there have been 3 cases of crash-and-grab incidents since June 2014, targeting high-end retailers including the Valentino store, Louis Vuitton and the Dorchester Hotel, escaping with millions of dollars in jewelry and watches. In the early 1990s, New York authorities indicted members of a highly organized group that crashed into fur salons, jewelry stores and art galleries, making off with paintings, mink coats and other loot.

Since September 2014, at least a dozen such burglaries have been reported at retail businesses in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Some targeted high-end businesses, including a Neiman Marcus store on the famed Magnificent Mile. Others struck less affluent locations such as a pawn shop on the South side and clothing stores on the far West side.

In Tampa, FL, burglars made off with $307k worth of Rolex watches in a smash and grab. Unfortunately, two of their security cameras were reported as not working, and the other cameras were too old, and too low of resolution to provide much help.

The most recent incident happened around 4:53 a.m. on January 4, 2015 at a Best Buy in the 2600-block of North Clark Street (which happened right across from our client’s building). Police say the minivan smashed through the window of the store and several men allegedly jumped out, grabbed an unknown amount of items and fled the scene on foot. The thefts have made shop owners nervous, and police are still pursuing their first arrest.

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when hearing of these crimes?

For us here at VinTech, learning about the crash-and-grabs in our city raises concern for business owners.

What can we do to help prevent this from happening again? What kind of security measures were in place at the time of these incidents? If there were physical protection systems in place, why didn’t they stop or deter the burglar?

The most effective way to reduce the chance of any business being burglarized is through the “Layers of Protection” approach, using more than one prevention method. To protect your interests, we think like a burglar, analyzing any possible way someone could enter your business and then design a burglar prevention plan to effectively secure your dwelling.

Apply Security Film to Windows

  • Standard Burglar Resistant glazing material is UL 972 Film with a thickness of 14 milliliters or greater, although there are 12 ml films that meet the standard. For crash-and-grab prevention “thicker is better”.
  • An attachment system designed to securely attach film to the frame is recommended. Evaluate your window framing system; strong window film requires a strong window frame.

Alarm the business with audible & monitored systems

  • Make sure the interior of the business uses a motion detector and glass break sensor for the alarm.
  • Be sure to have the alarm company educate all employees on the proper use, arming and disarming of the alarm system. This is especially important for employees that open and close the business. This added education will help reduce false alarms.

Video Surveillance

  • When choosing a video surveillance system for a business, be sure to pick a high quality digital system. (High definition IP camera system is more affordable now!)
  • Choose a system that allows plenty of cameras, both inside and outside of the business.


  • Lighting and good visibility are the best protection against becoming a victim of burglary. Well lit, open spaces and uncluttered windows provide no place for a burglar to hide.
  • For exterior areas, use a dusk to dawn timer to make sure lights are on all night.
  • A softly lit interior will make it easier for officers driving by to check for any unwanted, after-hours guests.
  • Leaving the cash register open, empty, and visible from the outside removes the promise of “fast cash”. Valuables, including laptops, cell phones, etc., should not be left in plain sight.

Keeping your business safe should be a priority this New Year. Educate yourself by finding the best security solution for your business.

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