An exotic car dealership in Chicago faced an unprecedented wave of crime at its dealership as thieves reportedly stole $1 million in merchandise.
Partially caught on a security camera, two men allegedly stole millions of dollars in luxury watches.
Standing by the door with a gun, one man provided protection and cover while the other person smashed the display of cases with a hammer.
There were about ten customers, including children, present at the time of the robbery.
The dealership owner Joe Petito spoke to a local Fox News affiliated about the robbery.
“He was smart enough not to raise the gun because my people had guns,” Petito said. “If he raised that gun, he would have been shot. We’d probably be in court defending ourselves.”
The robbery took place at the Gold Coast Auto Gallery, which is in the Near North Side neighborhood of Chicago.
The crime took about 20 seconds to carry out. The suspects remain at large, police say.
Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has come under fire for casting doubt on whether rampant smash-and-grabs have actually occurred.
During an interview with The Washington Times, Ocasio-Cortez said, “A lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out.”
“I believe it’s a Walgreens in California cited it, but the data didn’t back it up,” she added. Her comments immediately sparked backlash from both Republicans and business leaders.
Walgreens responded, “Organized retail crime is one of the top challenges facing.” Crime “has evolved beyond shoplifting and petty theft to the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online,” the coompany confirmed.
Republican Rep. Rodney Davis responded, “I don’t know what data she is talking about. But you don’t really need much data from someplace in San Francisco or California. All you need to do is walk down the street to the CVS in Eastern Market,” he said.
“I’ve seen on multiple occasions when I’ve been in there buying things, someone will come in and raid a shelf and walk out.”
Republican Rep. Jim Banks said Ocasio-Cortez’s comments were “tone-deaf and offensive.”
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The Retail Industry Leaders Association also took issue with her remarks in a comment to The Washington Times.
“Respectfully, the Congresswoman has no idea what she is talking about. Both the data and stack of video evidence makes fairly clear that this is a growing problem in need of solutions,” Jason Brewer, RILA senior executive vice president of communications said in an email. “If she is not concerned with organized theft and increasingly violent attacks on retail employees, she should just say that.”
California has faced repeated smash-and-grab incidents since November, with most of the crimes concentrated in and around San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The crimes have sparked Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to call on local mayors to “step up” and hold the perpetrators to “account,” and saying they should be prosecuted. The governor also increased California Highway Patrol’s presence along highways near shopping destinations.
In one town, Walnut Creek, smash-and-grab looters stole about $125,000 in merchandise from a Nordstrom, sparking the city council to approve $2 million in funds to beef up its police department and security.
Police union leadership in the state has also slammed the repeated crimes, blaming California’s Proposition 47 and the ACLU for supporting the ballot measure. Under Proposition 47, passed in 2014, shoplifting charges regarding the theft of $950 or less were lowered from felonies to misdemeanors.