Social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter have quickly become a big parts of our everyday lives and the way we interact with the world. It is also not unusual to hear about these platforms being used to spread computer malware, spam, or get people into legal trouble. However, it seems like a new crime trend is emerging that focuses solely on the use of social networks to steal physical goods from retail locations, as opposed to the digital theft of sensitive information.
This new trend of social crime involves the use of flash mobs, which are usually social network-organized meet ups that take place in public locations and organize and disperse in a short amount of time.
The latest of these flash mob robberies (flash mobberies?) took place in a Georgetown, Washington Victoria’s Secret store. Within seconds, a large group of people (teens mostly) entered the store, distracted the staff, and walked out with handfuls of merchandise, leaving the staff helpless against the robbery.
“They come in and they do it so fast – within a matter of seconds… What happened in this store probably lasted around 20 seconds… They go in, they distract the employees and they grab the merchandise, they are in and out,” said Lt. John Hedgecock, from Washington D.C. Police.
The brash flash mob robbers (blash mobbers? I’m so sorry.), unlike normal criminals, seemed undeterred by the presence of security cameras:
“The people who do it don’t care and sometimes pose… They will stand there and look at the camera in a funny way,” said Alex Brown, an employee at Georgetown Park store Riccardi.
Investigators believe that the teenagers engaged in these robberies willingly show their identities because they assume that it will be much harder for them to be identified with so many people in the store. However, in reality, police now have video footage of them in action, and their attack plan has been posted on Facebook and Twitter for the world to see; making them much easier to catch than ordinary thieves.