Leon County Sheriff’s Office sees an Increase in “Smash and Grab” Cases

June 27, 2022 Criminal Defense, Theft/Property Crimes

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) has reported an uptick in vehicle break-ins that they are referring to as “smash and grab” crimes. The sheriff’s office is warning citizens to be careful and to refrain from leaving belongings in their cars.

The LCSO has described smash and grab as when a person breaks the window of your car or property and steals your valuables from the inside. LCSO also wants to remind the locals that many car thefts happen when their car is left unlocked, so to make sure to always lock the vehicle.

“If it does happen, please make sure that you do contact us,” Detective Brandyn Deas said. “We need to know when and where these are happening so we can try to find out who the suspect was.”

“Smash and grab” crimes do not only take place when someone steals from a car. They can also be considered organized theft, specifically, that takes place in a retail store. We will cover what exactly smash and grab is, the various theft charges in Florida, and several responses to smash and grab cases.

What is a “Smash and Grab?”

Smash and grab is a type of theft crime in which the defendant has been accused of breaking their way into a retail store or vehicle, stealing items, and fleeing. A smash and grab usually happens rapidly, without any time for an effective response can be taken by the police.

Smash and grab can also be referred to as a “flash mob” crime when it occurs in a retail store. In this instance, the crime usually consists of large groups who enter a business, grab all of the merchandise they possibly can, and flee into waiting vehicles so they can escape.

Whether the smash and grab crime is a one-man job in someone’s vehicle or a large group of people stealing from a store, it is difficult for police to track down and apprehend the perpetrators. This is due to either the speed or the sheer amount of people involved.

Retail smash and grab crimes usually target high-value stores, with items that are easy to resell. This can include electronics and designer accessories stores. Within minutes, thousands of dollars can be lost in merchandise with the act of smash and grab theft.

Theft Crimes in Florida

There are varying types of theft charges in the state of Florida. Depending on the amount of money that was lost in the committed theft, the offenses are divided into petit theft or grand theft. Under Florida Statute Section 812.014, petit theft is the theft charge for items equating to the value up to $750. If the stolen items up to $100, the penalty for petit theft is a second-degree misdemeanor. If the items stolen are valued between $100 to $750, then the petit theft results in a first-degree misdemeanor.

The most common type of petit theft is shoplifting. Florida Statute Section 812.015 explains that shoplifting occurs when an individual steals property or merchandise out of a store. In addition, the individual can be charged with shoplifting for switching around price tags, or moving merchandise to a different container with the intent to deprive the merchant of the item.

Grand theft is an enhanced version of petit theft. Individuals are charged with grand theft when the value of the stolen items reaches a certain amount or certain circumstances apply.  Grand theft can result in a first, second, or third-degree felony. If the stolen property is between $750 and $20,000, it results in a third-degree felony. If the stolen property is between $20,000 and $100,000, it results in a second-degree felony. Any stolen items or property over $100,000 results in a first-degree felony.

To find out more about theft and property crimes and their potential penalties, find our informative page here.

Responses to Smash and Grab Crimes

Law enforcement all across Florida is working to push back against smash and grab crimes. In December 2021, state officials launched the Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange. This is a new database that is meant to help track down retail thefts and identify the individuals behind the organized smash and grab crime.

Attorney General Ashley Moody gave the following comment at the event last December: “As organized crime has increased, as organized theft rings have become more complex and sophisticated, so will we.”

Tyson Roberts, an attendee of the event who works for Home Depot’s asset protection investigation team, explained, “These rings are formed up of criminal enterprises that go beyond petty shoplifting. They’re professional thieves running a business, stealing merchandise from our retailers and our communities.”

As for the rise in vehicle smash and grab cases, LCSO advises citizens affected by these crimes to immediately file a report with the sheriff’s office. If you become a victim of smash and grab crime, reach out to the department so they can help with assessing the damage to your vehicle, along with beginning an investigation.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a theft crime, it is extremely important that you seek out the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Getting caught stealing from a store or from someone’s property can result in serious penalties, such as expensive fines and potential jail time. Don Pumphrey and his legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across Florida for various theft crimes. We promise to work with you tirelessly to strategize a strong defense and ensure your freedom. For a free consultation today, call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website

Written by Karissa Key

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