Some local business owners are on high alert after an attempted smash-and-grab armed robbery in downtown Palm Springs Tuesday. The suspects are still at large.
Organized retail theft like smash and grabs and flash mob robberies have sadly become much more common.
This is not the first smash-and-grab attempt in the Coachella Valley within the past month.
On July 25, a brazen theft at a jewelry store inside the Palm Desert mall led to a brief lockdown and heavy police presence at the mall.
Palm Springs Police Chief Andy Mills said the department has applied for a state grant that would support them in responding and preventing organized retail theft.
"It's a trend that we see happening statewide," said Mills.
When I asked why is the trend happening, he responded:
"I think there's a variety of reasons. One is that the laws were changed to lower the penalty for these kinds of offenses. So it's hard to prosecute people, it's hard to keep them in jail," said Mills.
The department applied to receive about $4.5 million in funding.
"If we are able to get it, we will be able to help some of the businesses protect their stores better and allow us the opportunity to maybe put in technology that will allow us to catch people easier," said Mills.
The grant would help provide security technology like advanced cameras and safety film, which keeps broken windows from shattering.
Gordon Knott, who owns Music Box & Clock Shoppe in Palm Springs, said he's taking safety measures into his hands after his shop was broken into a couple of months ago. He applied for a carry permit for a gun.
"It's sad to hear because it's happening more and more," said Knott. "We have a stun gun, and I'm gonna get the pistol. But the cameras that I have in here catch everything outside and inside. So they work really well."
In the meantime, PSPD said it's committed to helping local businesses.
"We'd be more than happy to sit down with any business owner who's concerned, and we can help educate them on what they can do environmentally to protect themselves," said Mills.