Flash Mobs Turning into Flash Robs

Flash Mob at a university library

In the history of flash mobs, there have been some hilariously impressive forms of these spontaneous events. Take “Frozen Grand Central,” where over 200 people stood motionless for five minutes in Grand Central’s mezzanine or in Stockholm where 300 dancers broke out a number to pay tribute to Michael Jackson in a busy urban square.

It’s no surprise that flash mobs became the rage as rapid forms of communication, such as social media or texting, appeared, making an almost completely spontaneous event with loads of people possible. Unfortunately flash mobs have not only been pillow fights and thriller dance moves.

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The London riots are a prime example, where protesters organized themselves en masse via Blackberry Messenger and Twitter. Across the Atlantic, criminal flash mobs organized online or through texting have swept across North America as well. Last week, in Georgetown, Maryland, 30 people invaded a 7/11 and stole everything they could get their hands on within the span of 60 seconds. Also this summer, a Victoria Secret store in Washington D.C., stores in Chicago (North Face and Filene) and a Quickie Convenience Store in Ottawa, Canada were “flash-robbed.”

These unprompted mob events have escalated to violence and assault. In late July, up to 40 teenagers attacked and robbed random pedestrians in Philadelphia. At the Wisconsin State Fair, 31 youth were arrested as part of a 100-person flash mob that set about beating those leaving the venue.

While in London those responsible for creating Facebook pages alleged to incite rioting were arrested, several cities in the U.S. are taking a different approach. Their stance is that social media is not the cause but just one of the many means for violent activity to arise among crowds.

On August 12, Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter enacted a nighttime curfew for teens to detract crime: those 13 and younger must be home by 10pm and those between the ages of 13 to 18 must be off the streets by midnight. Over the first weekend, 50 teens were arrested and fined for disregarding the clampdown. Kansas City followed suit for a 9pm curfew in certain entertainment districts. Louisville, Kentucky began a similar program in July where teens have to be home by 11pm on weekdays and 1am on weekends.

These curfews are enforced by local police officers all in attempts to prevent violence that has been on the rise among the teen demographic. If you would like to make your municipality’s streets safer and help calm the rage among your local citizens, consider a career in Law Enforcement. Earning a criminal justice degree with a specialization in Law Enforcement in combination with hands-on experience at the police academy will equip you with all the skills and character you need to be a successful police officer.