Fashion Blog

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What Is Behind All the Eyewear Heists


It has happened yet again. Yet another high-end eyewear retailer has been robbed of expensive frames to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. The most recent incident was just one of many that have been reported since the first of the year. From New York to Los Angeles, eyewear retailers are becoming a hot target for brazen thieves. So what gives?

We don’t have any trouble understanding why thieves would break into a jewelry store to steal diamonds, gold, and silver. We find it completely understandable that smartphones and other consumer electronics are in big demand on the black market. But eyewear frames? Yes, indeed. Whether you are talking prescription glasses or designer sunglasses, expensive frames are hot right now. So hot that they are also very expensive.

A Gang and Two Minutes

The brazen robbery in Laguna Hills, California took only a few minutes to pull off. According to CBS Los Angeles, a gang of efficient and highly skilled thieves broke into a high-end eyewear shop just before dawn and went to work. Within just two minutes they managed to break into every display, drawer, and cabinet while stuffing handfuls of frames into bags. They were in and out in less time than it takes to heat up a cup of coffee in the microwave.

Police officials say there may have been as many as 12 people involved, though surveillance video only shows eight at any given time. The gang of thieves concealed their identities with masks and gloves; they escape in three separate vehicles upon leaving the store.

Owners estimate total losses upwards of $200,000. Yes, you read that correctly. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of designer frames gone in mere minutes. What’s worse, the store is not alone. According to multiple news reports, crimes of this nature are occurring across the country with greater frequency.

If It’s Valuable to You…

Though stealing designer frames or sunglasses and prescription eyewear might seem a bit odd, it is really just a matter of supply and demand. The thieves involved in the Laguna Hills robbery didn’t steal the frames because they wanted fashion eyewear for themselves. They don’t plan to go into the business of designing and selling fashion sunglasses. They pulled off the robbery because there is an entire black market waiting to purchase those frames.

Olympic Eyewear, a Utah company that specializes in designer sunglasses, says that it is all about value. If something is valuable to you, it is also valuable to thieves able to sell it on the black market. There is no doubt that high-end designer sunglasses and prescription frames are hot right now. People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for designer brands without thinking twice about it.

In the case of Olympic Eyewear, they design and manufacture their own brands that are meant to compete with luxury brands costing a lot more. What would cost the consumer hundreds of dollars for a luxury label can cost as little as $25-$50 under the Olympic brand. Such a price disparity easily explains why thieves are breaking in and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of luxury designer frames.

The robberies will continue for the foreseeable future as long as there is a market for the stolen frames. That likely means years. Retailers have their work cut out for them as far as protecting their inventories is concerned. As for the thieves themselves, they will continue doing what they do until law enforcement and company security procedures are able stop them. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.