Russell Hebets May 26, 2016

A smash and grab is a theft that occurs when the perpetrators drive a car into a building, quickly grab all the merchandise or money that they can and then flee. Even though the act is dramatic, attention getting, and often triggers alarms by breaking through security, they work because they happen so quickly. Just this week a Littleton gun store was hit for the third time this year.

The smash and grab approach tends to focus on convenience stores, liquor stores and gun shops. These are places where products are typically not locked up but remain on display. Jewelry stores and even dispensaries sometimes have secure metal roll tops that pull over the displays and lock. But these can be expensive and difficult to install. The latest theft at the Triple J Armory was frustrating, not just because it was the third one this year, but because the owners had installed concrete barriers in front of the store in the hopes of preventing this again. In fact, the barriers helped to prevent an attempted robbery last year. However, the thieves were able to drive through them this time with a stolen jeep.

Police in Denver and neighboring towns have noticed an uptick in these crimes and trying to develop ways to prevent them. But most preventative measures focus on the retailer. In addition to locking cabinets and barriers, they also include spreading out pricier items throughout the store, unbreakable or bullet proof glass, having video surveillance that can be reviewed after the fact, maintaining security guards or patrols, and locking everything away on a daily basis. These suggestions can be cumbersome and expensive. Unfortunately, these crimes happen so fast, within 1-2 minutes, that prevention is really the best approach. Police are not always able to respond quickly enough to catch anyone in the act.

In the case of Triple J there is the added concern of stolen weapons. In this case almost 30 weapons were stolen. Stolen guns are almost always funneled into illegal use. Federal reporting laws require that gun stores report theft. So if these guns are uncovered they may be traced back to this incident. If you are in the market for a used weapon you can check to see if it is stolen in the HotGunz database here:

In the meantime, vulnerable stores will be beefing up measures to prevent smash and grab thefts and police will be seeking better ways to handle these crimes.