SCOTTSDALE — Valley law enforcement were out at popular shopping centers on Black Friday as some high-end retailers in other parts of the country have become victim to organized robberies.
From California to Chicago, masked thieves are taking advantage of stocked shelves at stores like Louis Vuitton and Nordstrom.
Cell phone and security videos show dozens of robbers smash entry ways and glass cases to snatch hundreds of thousands in inventory.
Cell phone video in some robberies show even when cops are able to stop some thieves, others are still able to get away with what they stole.
“This is not a problem limited to San Francisco,” said San Francisco District Attorney, Chesa Boudin during a recent press conference.
At the Scottsdale Fashion Square on Black Friday, long lines drew outside high-end retailers as security and store employees look to limit capacity inside.
In Chandler, police beefed up patrols around businesses for one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Retired Law Enforcement Chief Chris Bertram says criminals may turn away just upon seeing police.
“Criminals are going to take the path of least resistance. If they don't see law enforcement, there's no law enforcement presence or response times are high, they'll take advantage of that,” said Bertram.
Even when police aren't there immediately, cameras are.
Security and cell phone video were key in helping Scottsdale police arrest more than 55 people involved in stealing from the Fashion Square retailers, taking advantage of the situation, during the social justice protests in the summer of last year.
Bertram says if thieves get physical with store employees or have a weapon, what would be misdemeanor charges can become felonies.
“One deterring factor is to charge them appropriately,” he said.
However, penalties are ultimately up to prosecutors.
Security experts say it’s not unusual for these kinds of robberies to happen around the holiday. Stores have filled shelves with plenty to choose from, leaving more opportunities for a “smash-and-grab.”
There’s also a market for stolen goods during the holidays.
The “smash-and-grabs” happening around the country could be organized on social media, said Bertram. Organizers could be planning on private social media groups or even brazenly recruiting on public pages.
He said it's up to investigators to develop confidential informants to seek them out.
“Proactively predict, potentially, these types of criminal activities, it’s very difficult but not impossible,” said Bertram.