This summer, the legislature took a step to stiffen penalties on what’s called “smash and grab” theft offenses. Defining the crime and levying some pretty hefty sentences, they hope to stop the growing trend in its tracks.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, there have been 132 of these offenses so far this year, up from 119 last year and 130 in 2008. Smash and grabs are characterized by thieves smashing through a window or door of a retailer and quickly making off with merchandise before law enforcement can respond.
While electronic stores are obvious hot spots for these offenses, so are high end clothing stores and boutiques, where the thieves can resell the high dollar items on online stores or in flea markets. While some of the nicer stores can afford high tech security to combat the smash and grabs, smaller stores may not be so fortunate.
The National Retail Federation estimates losses of $3 million for the Atlanta area between 2007 and 2009. They go on to say this figure is conservative as there are likely some that haven’t been reported.
New laws which were enacted this summer define the offense of “smash and grab” and significantly increase potential penalties.
An adult suspect who is convicted of a smash and grab resulting in more than $500 in damage will face a two year mandatory minimum prison sentence. If an adult is accused of soliciting a child to do the crime for them, they will face 1 to 5 years.
These sorts of offenses are a little more complex than the typical theft charge. You are essentially breaking and entering in addition to the theft. The destruction of property could also be considered criminal damage to property.
The loss isn’t just about the amount of goods you take but also the damage done in the process. In addition to being more complex and punished more severely, smash and grab thefts are less common than other thefts, despite their increased frequency.
Whether you are accused of taking something that didn’t belong to you or using someone else’s identity to obtain something of value—you are likely under some serious stress. Knowing you may go to prison for something you wish you could take back is a gut wrenching ordeal.
If you’re facing theft charges like these, you need someone in your corner. A defense attorney is there to help make sure you get the best results possible from your case and to ensure your rights are protected at every stage.
If you’re in need of some legal advice, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.