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Robbery in Flash mob stores raises questions about security and risk management



Retailers worried about the recent influx of flashmobs invading upscale stores and stealing thousands of dollars worth of goods can take practical steps to minimize the risk, experts say.

Goods stolen in raids are likely to be covered by policyholders' property insurance, but the losses may fall within the companies' self-insured retentions.

Recent "smash and grab" robberies have been reported in northern and southern California, Chicago and Minneapolis, among others.

In a November 20 incident in Walnut Creek, California, about 80 people arrived in about 25 cars, many without license plates, and searched a Nordstrom department store.

Two employees were assaulted and another was given pepper spray, according to news reports. Three people were later arrested and charged with robbery and conspiracy.

Bryan Paarmann, intelligence chief and chief operating officer at Brosnan Risk Consultants, a New York-based security firm, said most of the goods stolen in such raids were posted online for resale to

While organized retail crime has a long history, recent incidents are "a new wrinkle," said Rachel Michelin, president and CEO of the Sacramento-based California Retailers Association. "It's something we have not seen before."

Rich Rossman, a sergeant at the Broward County Sheriff & # 39 ;s Office, who is vice president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retailers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said that criminals "use fear and intimidation of taking property. ”

"These flashmobs have happened before, but not to the extent that they have only become brave," and they are becoming more violent, he said.

"The best plan is to prevent," said Mike Bugielski, Glendale, California. based senior risk control consultant and area manager for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Dealers should have "a well thought out, proactive plan for emergency procedures that they review frequently," he said. Local police departments are important, experts say. "Private partnership to discourage this," said Paarmann.

"The most important thing is to review security plans and procedures" with the dealers' security guards, said Bugielski.

Integrated security. systems and controls on doors also help. Brittain Ladd, a Dallas-based consultant, suggested retailers install remote-locked security doors that can be remotely locked. discourage them from trying to enter a facility, ”said Thomas Franzoni, Las Vegas-based loss control specialist for Alliant Insurance Services Inc.

He proposed a two-door system, where people first enter a small lobby before entering a other interior door.

Other options include installing special films that prevent windows from shattering, placing bollards in front of doors and windows, which will prevent cars from entering, and installing reinforced locks and grilles on doors after hours, said Mr. Franzoni.

He also suggested disposing of items with high tickets, showing empty boxes instead, and letting sellers pick up items if necessary. or distribute such goods in the store.

] Experts also recommend perimeter checks, including, where possible, not allowing cars to park near doors to prevent criminals from fleeing.

But dealers' pickups at the curb must also be considered. in Bugielski. "You want to make sure your parking or cargo zone or pickup at the curb is safe."

Retailers must also ensure that there is adequate lighting and surveillance cameras located in key areas.

Mr. However, Bugielski recommends not arming security guards with weapons, which he described as a "public relations nightmare for all retailers. … It's just not safe." All dealers who consider arming guards "should check with their broker to make sure there is no armed exception in the policy," he said.

Dealers have property coverage for the robberies, but in a hardening market, insurers are looking at coverage much more. close, he said.

Brett Borelli, New York-based senior vice president of the Alliance Real Estate Group, said the value of stolen goods, which in some cases amounts to about $ 1

00,000, is likely to fall within or just above dealers' self-insured retentions. [19659002] Self-insured retentions can be a problem for resellers who are not large listed companies, says the policyholder's attorney Peter S. Selvin, a partner with Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP in Los Angeles.

"It is a non-refundable expense that will have its own effect ”on the sustainability of these retail businesses, he said.

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