COLUMBUS, Ohio — It's a plague targeting upscale stores across the country. A wave of bandits has conducted a series of brazen smash-and-grab robberies from Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Chicago within the last seven days.
The crime usually involves smashing some sort of barriers, like windows, in a shop and grabbing valuables.
Law enforcement agencies in central Ohio are remaining vigilant to protect local business owners.
Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, someone smashed a window at the Chocolate Cafe in Grandview Heights and stole the cash register.
“It's just disheartening,” said Lisa Boyle, the owner of the cafe. “I was just so glad my employees weren't here and that it was overnight and that there wasn't any type of confrontation.
While this isn't the same type of smash and grab many businesses across the country are dealing with, it is still frustrating.
Some local businesses like LEPD are preparing so they don't become the next victim.
"We're not concerned about the holsters or the t-shirts, we are concerned about the firearms. That will have a direct impact on others if they were to be stolen from the store. That's something we are going to do everything in our power to prevent,” said LEPD owner Eric Delbert.
Delbert explained they have dozens of cameras, have put barriers outside and all employees carry both a firearm and an alarm while working.
“It's the atmosphere of our culture right now, the violence in the streets,” he said
Columbus Police Commander Duane Mabry said this crime trend is something the police department is aware of.
Mabry said so far there haven't been any smash mobs in the Columbus area, but they are ready if it does happen.
As for Boyle, she is happy no one was hurt, and that the thieves only got the cash.
A group called Ohio Retail Organized Crime group is made up of police officers, theft prevention officers, businesses and prosecutors.
They will meet Tuesday to talk about how to prevent smash and grabs here in central Ohio.