Lightfoot blames retailers’ efforts amid smash-and-grab robberies, Chicago soon sees most brazen theft yet

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot took heat last week for her comments blaming the victims of smash-and-grab crimes for not doing enough to make safety a priority as the Windy City has seen several significant and recent such heists.

“We also got to push retailers. Some of the retailers downtown and [on] Michigan Avenue, I will tell you, I’m disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority,” Lightfoot said last week.

She refused to accept the responsibility that her own policies could potentially be giving rise to crime in the city and instead pointed the finger at what she deemed lax operational policies by the store owners.

“For example, we still have retailers that won’t institute plans like having security officers in their stores, making sure that they’ve got cameras that are actually operational, locking up their merchandise at night. Chaining high-end bags, these purses seem to be something that is attracting a lot of attention on these organized retail theft units,” the city’s first openly gay mayor said.

One of the more brazen robberies took place on Saturday at the Gold Coast Exotic Motors dealership where security footage shows that the targeted merchandise was indeed locked up in a display case. Two men entered the store and in a matter of seconds one of the men – undeterred by the enclosure – smashed open the case and took off with at least seven high-end luxury watches worth millions of dollars.

“We’re here to run a legitimate business, not be a western shootout,” Joe Perillo, co-owner of Gold Coast Exotic Motor Cars told ABC7.

Perillo questioned the backward catch-and-release policies that seem to underlie the rampant rise in smash-and-grabs occurring primarily in liberal cities that are soft on crime.

“If they get arrested, they get let go. So, how do you intend to ever solve that problem?” asked Perillo.

But he was not the only one that was bewildered by Lightfoot’s comments. Many people of social media expressed similar dismay.

Several larger retailers have already ditched Chicago for safer territory and although Lightfoot explained that more police were added in the affected areas, Perillo’s luxury store may also still be on the brink of leaving too.

“If they don’t do anything about this, they’re going to lose a lot of businesses. They lost Macy’s. They’re losing Neiman Marcus. They may lose this store,” Perillo said.

President and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association slammed the mayor’s comments as “sadly misinformed” and explained that security is already a top priority for retailers.

“You can’t buzz everyone in and out the door. Retail doesn’t work that way. You can’t put everything behind lock and key and bars,” Robert Carr said according to Fox32. “The National Retail Federation says organized retail crimes have increased 60% in the past five years.”

The rampant theft problem in Illinois has cost retailers somewhere in the range of $3.7 billion to $4 billion.

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