Law Enforcement Concerned About Rise In 'Smash and Grab' Robberies

Area of smash and grab robberies

They run in with hammers, smash the display cases, steal the loot and are out of the store in less than a minute. Crime Stoppers is offering up to $10,000 for information that will help crack the case of a series of "smash and grab" thefts that have occurred in recent weeks.

The crimes have taken place in Harris and Fort Bend counties in the past month.

Groups of masked thieves rush into local businesses. Some stay at the entrance to the store as lookout, while the others head straight to the jewelry display cases, focused as they hammer away.

One of the robberies was so brazen that it took place in a Galleria jewelry store that was full of customers.

"Gold, jewelry, ring, watches, they're easy to move and they're hard to trace. I think the recovery rate on jewelry like that is 5 percent."

That's Sgt. John Bedingfield with the HPD's Robbery and Theft Division. He says investigators are putting together important pieces to this puzzle, like that some of the robberies are gang related. What has not yet  been determined is whether the crimes are the work of just one group.

"I can say that in most of our cases, all of our complainants had indicated that they were African-American, based on the terminology, the verbiage that was used, and some of them could see the color of their skin. I have my theories. I know that there is an Hispanic male that's working with one of the groups."

He says investigators are studying video surveillance, and evidence from the robberies includes fingerprints and blood left from the broken glass, but they could sure use a name.

"To me, an anonymous tip on an anonymous person in a mask is not doing me a whole lot of good. I would like to talk to that tipster. If they're willing to leave a phone number, I could meet with you anonymously and you can remain anonymous, but I still need to meet with you. If you're gonna give me a name of a person that's doing this, I've got to have a little bit more to link him up to it."

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says they want to keep the businesses safe.

"They're doing this, they're brazen about it. They're doing it during business hours, during broad daylight hours. And so they're embolden to do this stuff, and it's gonna get someone hurt. The way they're going about it is dangerous. It's dangerous for the general public that's out there, because this is just a step away from a shoot out and people putting guns in people's faces."

It is hoped that doubling the cash reward to $10,000 from private donations, will result in a quick resolution to the smash and grab cases.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...