Almost $1 million in handbags were stolen in a smash and grab robbery of the luxury bag store Only Authentics located in Palm Beach, Florida on Christmas Eve. The robbery took place a little more than two weeks after thieves initially stole close to $500,000 worth of bags.

No arrests have been reported.

The two robberies come after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the state’s plan on December 2nd to help prevent such crimes through the creation of a statewide task force and database known as the Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange, or FORCE.

According to Moody’s announcement, the FORCE is a “talented team of investigators, state attorneys, law enforcement” that will utilize a new database that will help law enforcement track retail thefts and identify criminal organizations that are behind them.

“As organized crime has increased, as organized theft rings have become more complex and sophisticated, so will we. … Make no mistake, this does not harm just retailers … This holiday season, I want Floridians to feel safe and secure when they go out to our shopping centers,” Moody stated.

However, as the two robberies of Only Authentics shows, the creation of the FORCE does not necessarily prevent such crimes from happening, rather just investing in technology that increases the chances of the criminals who committed such crimes to be caught and brought to justice.

In an interview with CBS 12 in Palm Beach, describing the two burglaries, the store’s owner, Virgil Rogers, stated:

“It’s almost like we’re in the wild, wild west here. … We as citizens living on Palm Beach Island especially, we almost live in a bubble, we do, it’s very sad and now it’s come to the homefront and your own home, what’s going on elsewhere.”

Rogers is referencing the rise in smash and grab robberies luxury retailers are experiencing that are taking place across the country, from California to New York. Concerned over being hit again because of how light the sentencing can be for these criminals, Rogers stated,

“I think there should be stiffer penalties for these types of crimes. I don’t think people should be allowed to be out on bail as quickly as they are because I am certainly not a millionaire, that’s for sure, and I really can’t take another hit like this. It will put me completely out of business.”

That being said, as the FORCE looks to identify and prosecute individuals involved in organizing the retail thefts, Moody suggested that it will also try to crack down on whom the crime leaders recruit to actually execute the crime – like the ones mentioned by Rogers.

“We know that juveniles are often recruited to commit crimes for these large criminal organizations because they think juveniles will never be held accountable. And if we allow that to keep happening without working these cases up, and putting these organized crime leaders behind bars for a significant period of time, Florida may see what’s going on in other states,” Moody stated.

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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Only Authentics” by Only Authentics.