Internet meme is all fun and games until someone uses it to rob a convenience store. Here's what happened when the criminally-inclined use social media to organize the thievin' version of flash mobs: "flash robs."
It’s a fad that started in Washington, D.C. back in April, when around 20 people filed into a high-end jeans store in Dupont Circle and quickly made off with $20,000 in stock. Since then, the practice has spread — Dallas, Las Vegas, Ottawa, and Upper Darby, Pa. have all reported incidents since then — though the targets have gotten a bit more downscale, with most of the thefts taking place in convenience stores.
The latest crowd theft took place Saturday night at a 7-Eleven in Silver Spring, Md., and it fit the familiar pattern. Kids pour into the store, calmly help themselves to merchandise, and then stream out again.
Incredibly, in a poll taken in August, the National Retail Federation reported that a full 10 percent of businesses surveyed had experienced a “flash mob”-style theft.
Because many of these crimes remain unsolved, we don’t really know much about who these kids are, and how they get together. In Upper Darby, after around 40 teens hit a Sears at a shopping mall, the police were able to arrest 15, and the superintendent said they told him the event was planned out “earlier in the day on a social-networking site.”
Bill Wasik of Wired's Threat Level has the story: Link