Flash mobs have been showing up to businesses across New York City, with large groups of rowdy teenagers rushing the stores to steal and destroy merchandise and terrorize customers. But now the owners are fighting back.
The flash mob problem has gotten worse in New York as business owners across the city report that teen mobs have terrorized them. The mobs seem to have a favorite target in newsstands, CBS New York found in an investigation.
Flash mobs are a relatively new phenomenon, spurred by the organizing power of the internet.
“They assemble, they do whatever it is that they’re going to do, and then they disassemble in a matter of minutes,” Jon Shane, assistant professor of criminal justice at John Jay College, told CBS New York. “By the time somebody recognizes what is happening or is injured, if the police are able to respond, it’s slow.”
Police have had a difficult time keeping up with the flash mobs, which show up quickly and leave before they can be caught. In the meantime, they are able to destroy and steal thousands of dollars of goods.
The flash mobs are a nationwide problem. This summer a mob of more than 300 teenagers descended on a Walmart in Jacksonville, Florida. The group came from a nearby party, bursting into the store to steal merchandise and vandalize, the Florida Times-Union reported.
The flash mobs sometimes have specific targets. A mob that attacked a store in Chicago stole more than $3,000 in designer jeans before making a quick exit from the store.
In New York City, some of the business owners are starting to fight back against the flash mobs. Several have installed surveillance cameras, telling the teens that they will distribute their photos around if they terrorize the store.