Hy-Vee — a supermarket chain that operates in the Midwest — launched a “Retail Security Team” amid a rise in smash-and-grab robberies.
The company said in a statement:
As part of its ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of both its customers and employees, Hy-Vee is introducing its new Hy-Vee Retail Security team to retail stores across its eight-state region. Hy-Vee has long worked with third-party security contractors or off-duty law enforcement that work in a security capacity throughout its eight-state region. The goal with this team is to create a consistent look for the security team and consistent approach to customer service and security across all of stores.
Hy-Vee Retail Security officers will be present in Hy-Vee stores during operating hours. These officers, many of whom come from a law enforcement background, are specially trained to defuse situations and equipped to protect the safety of both Hy-Vee customers and employees. The officers have been through training designed by Hy-Vee retail security leaders alongside law enforcement partners.
“Hy-Vee has a strong history of doing anything for our customers, and these officers will be held to that same standard,” Hy-Vee President and COO Jeremy Gosch said. “These officers will help provide another layer of safety and security for our customers, and will work alongside our store employees to deliver the same helpful smiles and outstanding service everyone expects at their local store.”
For the past few months, stores across the United States — especially in large cities — have been terrorized by large crowds of people executing group robberies. Days ago, one such incident in Palm Beach, Florida, resulted in the theft of nearly $1 million in Hermes handbags.
Security experts are warning that the trend is poised to worsen.
During an interview with Fox Business, Michael Sapraicone — the CEO of Squad Security, which specializes in high-end corporate security services — said that the nation is seeing a “big increase” in smash-and-grab thefts.
“We’re hearing a lot of people looking for more security, but the key to the security is to put an effective plan together,” Sapraicone explained. The interview occurred in front of a New York storefront that had been targeted in a smash-and-grab robbery days earlier.
In a press release from Squad Security, Sapraicone — a former NYPD detective — predicted a rise in violent thievery through the holidays. “The stars of sticky fingers are in alignment,” Sapraicone said. “Shoplifting has already reached epidemic proportions in some parts of the country, and some stores have been forced to close because of it.”
“Security guards can provide a measure of deterrence, which can be very effective,” Sapraicone continued. “But when guards try to stop shoplifters, it can pose serious threats to law-abiding shoppers and passers-by. Often, retailers’ policies will be just to let the shoplifters leave with the goods. Of course, this drives up the cost of merchandise and insurance.”
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey likewise warned that the robberies will spread across the United States.
“This is something now that I really unfortunately think is going to spread,” Ramsey told CNN. “Right now it’s in California, but it will spread, there’s no question about it.”
“I don’t know what’s driving all this, but it is of concern and it will continue,” Ramsey added. “It is not going to stop anytime soon.”