Smash and Grab

December 15, 2021 Updated: December 16, 2021


Across the country, we’re witnessing a shocking, brazen crime pattern called smash and grab. Heavily masked and hooded gangs, deploying crowbars and hammers, and armed with neutralizing chemical spray, smash through store windows and doors before frantically grabbing as much high-end merchandise as they can carry out.

With swarming teams as large as 80, these flash mob thefts of Gucci bags, Apple iPhones, and high-priced jewelry can cumulatively exceed $100,000 each. The thieves, in turn, fence the stolen loot through the internet. Store security, mall cops, and frightened customers are so dumbfounded by the audacious nature of the heist, they’re often paralyzed to respond. Overwhelmed by crime spikes in multiple areas, law enforcement plays whack-a-mole against the evolving threat.

It’s an upside-down world in which criminals have free rein, crime-enabling political leaders look the other way, state legislatures in the most affected states minimize the organized “shoplifting” as a low-priority “misdemeanor,” and law-abiding civilians are demonized if they dare to block the transparent evil.

Academics shamelessly justify the onslaught as “active measures,” “reparations,” and “social justice.” After all, they reason, “wealthy” stores for the “privileged elite” can recoup their losses through insurance. Those who disagree with this groupthink are purged from the collegiate ranks into a transfer portal to nowhere.

In our nation’s long quest to protect human dignity, the right to be free of violence against one’s person and property doesn’t have to be an inexorable casualty. But this isn’t just about shoppers and stuff. Violent crime doesn’t exist in a vacuum apart from larger cultural dynamics.

A society that tolerates wanton criminal activity, not to mention open borders, is one that’s happy to tolerate smash-and-grab health care edicts, smash-and-grab electioneering, smash-and-grab school boards, and smash-and-grab pro athletes refusing to stand for the flag of an imperfect but self-correcting nation that made their outsized profits possible.

No surprise we now have smash-and-grab budgets in which massive new spending is passed with zero compromise, with mandates for 87,000 new IRS agents, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and tax breaks for California and New York millionaires. No one in Big Tech, Big Media, or the administrative state is going to shame, stop, or silence the quest to “fundamentally transform” America.

In our smash-and-grab economy, global corporations wantonly grab what they want, paying lip service to their rapacious smashing of social, economic, and environmental norms. In our smash-and-grab political environment, decorum and collegiality are under daily siege, as formative and governing institutions lose credibility and trust. No surprise that in our smash-and-grab media, corporate profiteering demands a verbal cage fight, as notions of goodwill and citizenship recede further into a distant past.

Irish poet William Butler Yeats foresaw this moment more than 100 years ago:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”

On the dais at the front of the House chamber are five words: Union. Justice. Tolerance. Liberty. Peace. We say we want Unity. We say we want Justice. We say we want Tolerance. We need Liberty. But as long as a smash-and-grab ethos holds sway in the land, we will not have Peace.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry represents the First District of Nebraska in the United States House of Representatives.