A group of thieves stole more than $20,000 worth of merchandise from a cosmetics store in the Philadelphia area.
Five individuals wearing masks entered the store, grabbed as much as they could, and left within a minute, fleeing the scene in a dark-colored sedan. The theft took place at the Ulta Beauty store in the Hamilton Crossings shopping center in Lower Macungie Township, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia, at around 6:30 p.m. Monday night. Pennsylvania State Police are currently investigating the matter, interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance, WFMZ 69 Lehigh Valley reported.
“Five individuals went into the Ulta Beauty Store at Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie Township, went inside the building with bags and stole numerous merchandise,” said Trooper Nathan Branosky, public information officer for Pennsylvania State Police Troop M. “They fled the scene within 40 seconds of entering the store.”
Police are asking witnesses to come forward, and urging individuals to be vigilant while doing their holiday shopping. “Try to be the best witness you can, whether you’re inside the store or outside the store, but obviously be safe while doing so,” Branosky said, adding that witnesses should take in as much information about the suspects as they can.
A wave of “smash-and-grab” style burglaries has arisen across the country. Stores in multiple states were targeted on the Black Friday shopping holiday. A Home Depot in Lakewood, California was robbed by a mob of between 8 and 20 people between the ages of 15 and 20 on Friday, The Daily Wire reported. The thieves arrived in 10 vehicles, put on ski masks, and stole sledgehammers, hand hammers, and crowbars, prompting fears that some would be used in future burglaries. The robbery was the latest in California, which has become the epicenter of the crime spree that has since spread nationwide.
Two Best Buy stores in the Minneapolis area were also robbed on Black Friday. A mob of 20-30 people stole an unknown amount of merchandise from the Best Buy near Burnsville Center around 8 pm. At the same time, another group of about 10-12 adults and children stole “high-value items” from a Best Buy near Maplewood Mall, including TVs, tablets, and hoverboards.
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told CNN last week that he expected the robberies to continue to spread nationwide. “This is something now that I really unfortunately think is going to spread,” Ramsey told the outlet on Thursday. “Right now it’s in California, but it will spread, there’s no question about it.”
Ramsey said he dealt with an outbreak of smash-and-grab robberies during his tenure as police commissioner. The thefts, organized on social media, were incredibly difficult to control, he added. “I don’t know what’s driving all this, but it is of concern and it will continue,” Ramsey said. “It is not going to stop anytime soon.”
“This is not shoplifting, this is something far worse than shoplifting. So, there’s a lot that has to be done if we want to get a handle on it,” he said.