ST. LOUIS – Businesses are fighting back against would-be criminals with a product you have to see to believe.

Central West End stakeholders came out in person to watch a dramatic demonstration by Safe Haven Defense.

The company first showed what happens to a window covered with a protective film you can buy in most stores. A Safe Haven Defense rep grabbed a brick from the alley and threw it through the glass. He then reached through the hole and unlocked the door, saying, “I’m now in your structure in a matter of four seconds.”

Next, they set up a window covered with the company’s riot-resistant laminate.

“In lieu of them having to board their business up, the laminate is the board, if you will,” said Nate McVicker, a licensed peace officer who is working with the company.

The same brick thrown again and again does not penetrate.

They then put the window through the aluminum bat test. Abdul Abdullah wanted to take a crack at it. He’s helping dozens of businesses pay for the product through Park Central Development.

Jim Whyte with the Central West End Neighborhood security initiative organized the test

“I said, ‘Set it up.’ The sooner the better,” he said. “I came across the product representative right when we were having a surge of these.”

McVicker added: “Nearly 30 smash-and-grabs in almost the same amount of days. These criminals are opportunists.”

Alderwoman Tina Pihl (Ward 17) also took a few swings as she is also helping constituents with the protection.

“It was really tough. So tough that I actually have a little bleeding finger here,” she said.

The window film never broke. Eventually, the damaged glass between the protective layers turned to dust and the window came loose from the frame. The aluminum bat used in the test seemed to sustain the most damage as it was bent during the tests.

“After a second or two, they’re just going to walk away because it’s going to take them too long to get inside,” Pihl said.

St. Louis customers are already lining up.

“A couple businesses in The Grove; they have about five businesses lined up and more to come,” Whyte said.