The Grove Wraps Itself in Security Wire to Fend Off Smash-and-Grab Attacks

The L.A. mall has been forced to resort to penitentiary-style measures to defend against organized mobs of looters

Responding to the wave of smash-and-grab robberies that has terrified Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities around California in recent weeks, the Grove has installed a high coil fence at its entrances and exists in hopes of fending off the gangs of young criminals who authorities estimate have already made off with $338,000 in stolen goods and caused $40,000 in property damage in L.A. over the course of just ten days.

As CNN reports, the Grove’s management installed the custom aluminum-and-steel mesh “tangled tape” obstacle—which is put up at closing and taken down in the morning—in advance of Thanksgiving. Although it may appear to be something out of The Great Escape, it’s physically harmless to the squads of thugs who’ve been pulling off the capers.

“The coil wire is a reasonably new technology in retail crime prevention,” Mike Lamb, a former vice president of asset protection and safety for Walmart, Home Depot and Kroger, tells the network. “It looks like it’s designed to not cause injury, but [it] can tangle a person in it and slow down someone who is trying to get away quickly.”

Unfortunately, the retailer might want to try some old-fashioned razor wire next time, since the fencing failed to prevent looters who successfully smashed their way into the mall’s Nordstrom store on November 22 using sledge hammers and an electric bicycle, getting away with at least $5,000 in merchandise and causing $15,000 in damages.

A Grove rep points out that the barrier did prevent the 18 to 20 attackers from getting onto the complex’s property by blocking an entrance, while Nordstrom’s entrance was facing a public street and was not protected by the wire. An additional defense measure of special ballistic coating on the store’s windows did make it harder for the assailants to get inside, and gave police more time to respond, the Grove said.

So far, 14 people have been arrested in connection to 11 robberies committed in L.A. between November 18 and 28, but have since been let go because they either made bail or met no-bail criteria, and one suspect was a juvenile.

A statewide policy of $0 bail for misdemeanors and “minor” felonies ended last year, but has been kept in place by the Los Angeles County Superior Court system.

Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed his frustration with the situation earlier this month, stating, “We need the help of our criminal justice system, of our judges, of our jailers. We have opened up a lot of the city because we’re in a better place with COVID. We should be able to also open up our jails, and we should be able to have judges that put people behind those bars.”

Additionally, a group of 20 retailers—including the CEOs of Nordstrom, Target, Best Buy, and CVS—sent a letter to Congress last week begging lawmakers to pass legislation that would make it easier for consumers to know where their purchases come from, and harder for the thieves to sell them.

“As millions of Americans have undoubtedly seen on the news in recent weeks and months, retail establishments of all kinds have seen a significant uptick in organized crime in communities across the nation,” the retailers wrote. “In the current environment, criminal networks, and unscrupulous businesses have exploited a system that protects their anonymity to sell unsafe, stolen or counterfeit products with little legal recourse.”

Addressing the crime spree Tuesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said, “You know, the crime we are seeing is organized crime, and it is going to take an organized strategy to put a stop to it. These are these folks that have put thought into it, have a strategy, have a plan, focused on certain places at certain times and communicate and work in concert.”

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