Owner says he feels violated after smash-and-grab theft at car dealership

Holidays On Alert

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A Chicago car dealership owner says he feels “violated” after thousands of dollars were stolen from his store during a brazen daytime smash-and-grab robbery.

“You don’t know the devastation and how you feel how violated you feel until it happens,” Joe Perillo, owner of Gold Coast Exotic Motor Cars said on “Morning in America.”

The dealership, which rents window space to a luxury watch company, had thousands of dollars of merchandise stolen last weekend. The theft was caught on surveillance video and lasted only 30 seconds.

One of the suspected thieves waited by the door while the other broke open a display case that contained watches.

Perillo said he feels like his hands are tied and he doesn’t know how to handle it.

“I’m going to have one security guard in my dealership. What do I do ask him, ‘Sir will you leave if the guy’s got a gun?’ I mean, this is crazy,” Perillo told NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert.

An assistant police chief told NewsNation Tuesday he believes social media is “emboldening” criminals to plan smash-and-grab robberies in large cities across the country.

“I think that people are being emboldened now by seeing these flash mob robberies on social media,” Jerry Bauzon of the Austin Police Department said on “Morning in America.” “I believe that the more we identify these robberies, the more that we highlight them, the more people will feel comfortable and know that you know what, I may be able to do this.”

“I don’t blame the thieves, their players. I blame the game. Stop the players. It’s the game,” Perillo said.

While social media has amplified the reach of who sees the smash-and-grab robberies, authorities say they have been happening for a while.

“This has been happening for a while now,” Lt. Tracy McCray with the San Francisco Police Department said on “On Balance with Leland Vittert” earlier this month. “And you’re now starting to get the upfront view of it, because everybody’s out (with) their phones … just waiting for it to happen.”

A poll that was commissioned by NewsNation and conducted by Decision Desk HQ found that 74% of those surveyed had heard about the recent smash-and-grab robberies at malls and retail stores. Of those who had heard of the robberies, 48% said they felt less safe shopping in person this holiday season.

“Holidays on Alert” is NewsNation’s weeklong series getting the facts around holiday crime concerns. You can view of all NewsNation’s coverage here.

You can watch the full interview with Perillo in the player above.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WGN contributed to this report.

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