A Sunglass Hut franchise in Milwaukee has become the latest victim of opportunistic thieves. News reports say that two men stole 14 pairs of designer sunglasses from the store on April 24, in the middle of the afternoon. Police have no suspects at the current time.

The theft may not seem like a big deal until you learn just how much the sunglasses were worth. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the store valued the stolen merchandise at $5,315. That’s amazing. No wonder thieves steal designer sunglasses from mall kiosks, strip mall stores, and anywhere else they can find them.

Let’s Do the Math

If you fail to understand the appeal of stealing sunglasses, a little bit of math should help you out. A $5,315 value on 14 pairs of sunglasses works out to an astonishing $379.64 per pair. That is quite a steal, literally and figuratively. Even if the thieves sell the sunglasses for half the retail price, they are still looking at a profit in excess of $2600.

Stop one minute and let that sink in. A pair of designer sunglasses sells for nearly $380 in a retail store outside of Milwaukee. This isn’t New York, Paris or even London, yet the Sunglass Hut has no trouble selling such expensive glasses.

So what’s really going on? Are designer sunglasses really worth that much money when you look at how much it costs to actually produce them? It’s only something consumers can decide. One thing we do know is this: as long as retailers are selling designer sunglasses for hundreds of dollars, thieves are going to make every effort to steal them.

Easy to Transport, Easy to Sell

We should not make the mistake of underestimating how valuable designer sunglasses are to thieves. The most successful thieves steal items they can remove quickly, conceal easily, transport in small packages, and sell on the street without drawing any attention to themselves. Designer sunglasses fit the bill perfectly.

Thieves can grab several pairs of designer sunglasses off a rack or shelf in mere seconds. The glasses easily slip into any kind of bag – from a small tote bag to a plastic grocery bag and a backpack – with very little effort. Once in the bag, the thieves can make their getaway rather inconspicuously.

As for sales, they aren’t even a question. People who buy on the black market will buy just about anything if they can get it at a drastically reduced price. They don’t care if it’s sunglasses or sneakers.

Paying for a Label

Knowing all of this doesn’t explain why eyewear prices are so high. The real explanation is found by comparing a company like Utah-based Olympic Eyewear against Italy’s Luxottica. The market share differences between the two just about say it all.

Olympic Eyewear designs and distributes more than a dozen different brands of sunglasses of exceptionally high quality. The company also pays attention to current trends and styles so as to guarantee that what they offer appeals to consumers.

Luxottica does essentially the same thing. The difference between their sunglasses and the ones sold by Olympic Eyewear really come down to a single word: label. People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a designer label they recognize even though they’re still getting an item made mostly of inexpensive plastic and a few screws and hinges. They could do so much better by spending less on an Olympic Eyewear brand.

Anyway, thieves are having a good old time stealing designer sunglasses and selling them on the street. They obviously know what’s truly worth stealing, don’t they?

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