It may be safer to rob a bank.
Retailers across the country are increasing their defenses to protect against looting, including by hiring armed guards, planting scouts to monitor, and securing shop windows with barbed wire, The Post has learned.
As The Post reported on June 2, the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue department store has fortified its New York City flagship with a razor wire fence and security guards equipped with attack dogs.
But sources say the trend is spreading and even affecting normally peaceful suburbs.
Security professional Michael Sapraicone, the head of Squad Security, says he has received multiple requests from retailers seeking to protect themselves against a series of high-profile looting by people seeking to take advantage of civil unrest across the country. Some of the requests are too risky to consider, he said. “We are rejecting calls we have to put armed guards inside unopened stores at night,” Sapraicone told the Post.
However, the former New York police detective agreed to park a security officer outside the posh Americana Manhasset Mall in Manhasset, New York, in a parked car at the request of one of his retailers, which he declined to name.
“We are there as a deterrent and to record what may happen,” said Sapraicone.
This week, stores inside the Tony Long Island Mall, which has tenants like Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Fendi, and Chanel, closed their windows as Nassau County police blocked the mall’s entrances. Restaurant operators are instructing customers to pick up their meals before 7:30 p.m., when the center now closes, including for sidewalk pickup.
For shoppers, increased security can be a disturbing day at the mall. An Orlando, Florida, resident told The Post that she appeared Monday at the posh Mall at Millenia to meet the empty stores. Luxury retailers like Tiffany, Cartier and Chanel were closed and their goods were recalled, said the buyer, who asked not to be identified. The Chanel store had a security guard stationed inside, he added.
However, it is unclear whether these stores were removed due to fear of looting or the coronavirus pandemic, and the mall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Back in the Big Apple, a large retailer who asked not to be identified has quietly planted dozens of armed guards inside its scented rooms in the event of a trespassing, a source with direct knowledge told The Post.
But security professionals warn that this approach can be risky, especially if it costs lives.
“It is a terrible idea to have armed security in your stores,” said Anthony Roman, president of Roman & Associates, a risk management firm. “The risks to personnel are too high, and security becomes a goal if people enter the building.”