Smash-and-Grabs Are More Than Theft. Are You Ready to Respond?

In under a minute, 14 thieves forced their way into a Louis Vuitton store outside Chicago, shoving more than $120,000 worth of handbags and other luxury goods into garbage bags before escaping in stolen vehicles.

Just two days later, a swarm of almost 100 people dressed in masks and dark clothing descended on a Nordstrom in a San Francisco suburb. Assaulting employees with pepper spray, crowbars and knives, the criminal flash mob took off with over $100,000 of merchandise in cars with covered license plates.

Less than a week later, an organized group of 15 to 30 looters carried out successive attacks on three Minneapolis-area Best Buys, making off with more than $26,000 in tablets, televisions, laptops and other electronic devices.

They may sound like scenes from a movie like The Purge, but these three events – and other alarming incidents of dramatic theft – really happened in November 2021. Organized retail crime (ORC) is rising across the country.

The Impact of ORC on Retailers

Retail companies have a million things they need to keep in focus: Maintaining in-store inventory, coping with supply chain issues, duty of care for employees and on-site customers, and managing brand reputation.

Theft is just one of many priorities businesses need to monitor, but it can be costly in more ways than just lost merchandise.

In 2020, the cost of ORC amounted to almost $720,000 per $1 billion in sales, a 10 percent increase over 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. Alarmingly, 65 percent of respondents noted an increase in violence, with 37 percent reporting ORC gangs have become much more aggressive than in the past.

No business, from department stores and luxury brands to small shops and convenience stores, is safe from ORC. For retailers, it’s no longer a matter of if, but when, they will be subject to the next smash-and-grab.

No matter the scale of the operation, ORC will cause a ripple effect whether stores realize it or not. At OnSolve, we call this dynamic risk. Theft isn’t just mere loss of property in the moment. It affects the safety of everyone in the store and can cause long-term ramifications for businesses.

Proactive Responses for Smash-and-Grabs

When it comes to ORC, awareness of the issue isn’t enough. While traditional security measures like security systems and on-site security guards are a great place to start, there’s more you can do to prevent crime in your retail location.

It’s time to partner with a company with a foundation built around critical event management (CEM) and enterprise risk management, which includes:

  • Proactive risk awareness: Get rapid information about threats in proximity to your retail store.
  • Cross-functional coordination and communication flows: Simultaneously keep stakeholders updated while alerting in-store employees.
  • Integrated technology and systems: Remove security and continuity silos to make sure your teams are on the same page when it comes to risk management.
  • Post-event analysis: Learn from what went right and what went wrong. And run tabletop exercises to practice and then analyze the results.

Each of these elements is essential to ensure the best possible outcomes during an ORC event, as well as smoothing the inevitable hiccups of daily operations.

More Time to React = More Confidence in Your Response

The OnSolve Platform for Critical Event Management is a modern, integrated platform that optimizes and centralizes all of the above capabilities, leveraging human analysts, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning continuously refined by OnSolve’s data science team for seamless communications and incident management.

Risk Intelligence technology delivers the essential information quickly to you and your stores, automatically filtering out irrelevant data. As a result, cross-functional teams have a better understanding of the impacting event no matter where they’re located.

Ultimately, a better understanding of the crisis drives better crisis management and monitoring, allowing your communications and response teams to better inform and protect in-store employees, customers and inventory.

Remember, your initial response makes the difference in how your brand can survive the initial trauma and its inevitable fallout.

Don’t wait until your business is threatened by thieves. Check out our 4-point risk management checklist for retailers and reach out today to learn how the OnSolve Platform for Critical Event Management can help you avoid attacks and improve your responses.


OnSolve® proactively mitigates physical threats, allowing organizations to remain agile when a crisis strikes. Using trusted expertise and reliable AI-powered risk intelligence, critical communications and incident management technology, the OnSolve Platform allows organizations to detect, anticipate and mitigate physical threats that impact their people and operations.