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Retailers ramp up security, cities reroute traffic to combat organized theft rings

Best Buy shoppers can expect to find more high-value merchandise behind locked shelves and a larger security presence in certain stores.

Along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, a pair of private security companies are patrolling the ritzy shopping district in response to attempted smash-and-grab robberies at Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue stores last weekend.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco's Union Square, following a spate of thefts and vandalism Friday night at nearly a dozen stores, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale's, city officials announced traffic patterns near high-end retailers had been readjusted so that thieves can't easily park, commit a robbery and then speed off.

"We will do what we need to do to put an end to this madness," San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told reporters.

A lingering fear of coordinated large-scale robberies is rattling retailers, not only in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, where videos of such thefts have gone viral, but in affluent suburbs not normally targeted involving tens of thousands of dollars worth of products.

Businesses, shopping malls and law enforcement agencies are weighing which protective measures to take as customers begin packing stores during the busiest shopping days ahead, including Black Friday, and in the midst of an economic backdrop of higher prices and shipping delays. A recent survey by the research firm The NPD Group found that online sales are settling back to pre-pandemic levels and brick-and-mortar stores are regaining their share of the retail sales market as shoppers yearn to return to the in-person experience.

But the threat of smash-and-grab incidents at already bustling stores can be "a dangerous rodeo," said Read Hayes, a criminologist at the University of Florida and director of the Loss Prevention Research...

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