Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– We get the first look at the video of the flash mob robbery at a 7-Eleven in downtown Baltimore with scores of young people rushing the store.
Derek Valcourt has more on the growing problem of flash mob crimes in Maryland.
This is crime by volume with so many teenagers taking part that store owners and employees can do little to stop it.
May 23: The 7-Eleven on Light Street. Surveillance cameras record as groups of teens walk to the back of the store for a free Slurpee giveaway. But soon, the cameras catch them as dozens begin to steal and pocket items off the shelves.
When store employees in the red shirts realize what’s happening, they block the doors to stop the young thieves from leaving.
But the kids physically struggle to get out and even appear to hit the store manager who then swings back. After the brief altercation, many kids dash out the door.
Witnesses saw it all.
“They really started hitting the guy. He couldn’t keep getting beat on so he eventually let him out and then they just ran,” Kendra Mellerson said.
After reviewing the surveillance video, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office opted not to pursue criminal charges in the case saying not every conflict warrants them.
What happened here is not an isolated incident. It’s happening more and more across Maryland and it’s a real source of frustration for law enforcement.
A similar incident happened last month at the 7-Eleven on Liberty Road in Baltimore County. And mobs of teens have looted several stores like the one in Montgomery County, stealing hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise.
“I don’t think there’s any place that is immune from flash mobbing,” security expert Rob Weinhold with the Weinhold/Fallston Group said.
Weinhold says laws and police must adjust to deal with this relatively new trend.
“Devastating consequences can occur for innocent bystanders who happen to be in the way and for small businesses who find themselves victimized simply because 20, 30 or 100 people walk into the establishment,” he explained.
A bill to toughen the punishments for this kind of crime failed to pass in Maryland’s last legislative session. Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Montgomery County says he plans to reintroduce the bill again in the next session.
Police say some of the kids seen in the surveillance video at the Light Street 7-Eleven were students in school uniforms from Merganthaler Vocational-Technical High School in Northeast Baltimore.