BALTIMORE (WJZ)– “Flash mob” robberies. It’s a disturbing trend in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and right here in Maryland. Large groups of young people swarm stores, take what they want and leave just as fast.
Derek Valcourt explains how police are trying to get the problem under control.
These flash mobs organize quickly, which is why some cities and counties are hoping curfews can stop what police can’t predict.
A security camera captures images of the latest flash mob crime at a Northeast Washington convenience store, where 10 young women enter the store, load up shopping bags and then run out in a pack.
“That’s crazy!” a resident said.
Crazy and increasingly common. The latest flash mob crime comes just days after a similar incident in Germantown, also orchestrated at a convenience store. In that case, 30 teenagers grabbed what they wanted before hustling out. Montgomery County police already identified half of the suspects in the video.
“And we hope to put an end to it before it becomes a trend,” Montgomery County Police said.
Officials there now considering following in the footsteps of Philadelphia where the mayor recently enacted curfews in certain districts for anyone under 18 after thousands of teens flash mobbed in the streets with acts of violence and vandalism.
“If you are caught breaking curfew, you will be taken to a police station or another place where your parent or guardian will be contacted,” said Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia.
“I don’t think that there is any place that is immune from flash mobbing,” Rob Weinhold, a security expert, said.
Weinhold said laws and police must adjust to deal with this relatively new phenomenon.
“The ability to mobilize happens very, very quickly, and if not in a productive setting, devastating consequences can occur for innocent bystanders who happen to be in the way, or small businesses who find themselves being victimized simply because 20, 30, 50 or 100 people walk into the establishment,” he said.
Baltimore City police say they are keeping an eye on the flash mob problem in Philadelphia, and say so far, there have been no flash mob crimes here in Baltimore.
Montgomery County’s curfew is still under consideration though a decision isn’t likely until sometime this fall.
Click here for more information on how to protect your business from a flash mob crime.