Smash and grab

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File:Smash and Grab - Caroli Guld - Malmö-1987.jpg
Police questioning a shop assistant shortly after a smash-and-grab coup in Caroli Gold in Malmö 1987.

A smash and grab raid or smash and grab attack (or simply a smash and grab) is a particular form of burglary. The distinctive characteristics of a smash and grab are the elements of speed and surprise. A smash and grab involves smashing a barrier, usually a display window in a shop or a showcase, grabbing valuables, and then making a quick getaway, without concern for setting off alarms or creating noise.[1]

Smash and grab raids can occur in many scenarios, both in broad daylight and at night, and the perpetrators can range from experienced thieves to impulsive vandals. Typically, display windows and showcases that are in enclosed areas, such as shopping malls and office buildings, are less vulnerable to smash and grab raids than those on open streets – particularly where the streets are poorly lit or unobserved (such as premises in pedestrian subways or unstaffed transport facilities).[1] Recent smash and grab crimes have also involved ramming a pickup truck through the walls of a convenience store or gas station in order to remove the ATM from the premises and recover the cash. [2]

The greatest cost of smash and grab raids can often be in replacing the windows or walls, which can sometimes far exceed the cost of the goods that are stolen.[1]


There are several approaches to deterring smash and grab raiders. Shopkeepers can securely tether their goods, and make the tethering obvious to the onlooker. They can also avoid displaying goods of value in windows (an approach that has the disadvantage of reducing the attractiveness of the display to customers). Additionally, shopkeepers can strengthen window glass, to the extent that it can withstand, without breaking, being hit by the implements that smash and grab raiders are likely to use, such as hammers, bricks, and scaffolding poles.[1]

Smash and grab raids became common in the 1930s, and were particularly prevalent in the 1940s, but decreased in frequency as shopkeepers took to strengthening their windows and/or fitting protective grilles. By the 1950s, forced entry to shops was being effected by using cars and grappling irons to pull window bars off windows, a precursor to the 1980s phenomenon of ram-raiding.[3][4]

Uses of the term in molecular biology

Smash and Grab is also the name given to a technique developed by Charles S. Hoffman and Fred Winston used in molecular biology to rescue plasmids from yeast transformants into Escherichia coli in order to amplify and purify them.[5] In addition, it can be used to prepare yeast genomic DNA (and DNA from tissue samples) for Southern blot analyses or polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 B. Poyner and W. H. Fawcett (1995). Design for Inherent Security. Thomas Telford. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7277-2040-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. R. I. Mawby (2001). "Commercial burglary". Burglary. Willan Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-903240-32-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Neal Shover (1996). Great Pretenders: Pursuits and Careers of Persistent Thieves. Westview Press. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-0-8133-8730-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. C.S. Hoffman and F. Winston (1987). "A ten-minute DNA preparation from yeast efficiently releases autonomous plasmids for transformation of Escherichia coli". Gene. 57 (2–3): 267–72. doi:10.1016/0378-1119(87)90131-4. PMID 3319781.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>