NRF issues 'flash mob' guidelines

Criminals using social media, texting to loot stores


The National Retail Federation has published the results of a survey and issued subsequent guidelines on the issue of "flash mobs" and how retailers should prepare themselves to handle them. Like flash mobs that utilize forms of social media and text messaging to gather at a location to perform a random dance routine or some other gag, groups of criminals are now using these same tactics to loot stores and terrorize employees.

According to the poll conducted by NRF, 79 percent of more than 100 retailers surveyed said that they had been a victim of a multiple offender crime in the last 12 months. Of these multiple offender incidents, retailers indicated that 10 percent of them involved the use of flash mob tactics. In addition, the survey found that 83 percent of these events involved juveniles and that social media or texting was the chosen method of communication in 42 percent of reported cases.

Among some of the recommendations made by NRF to respond to these types of flash mob incidents include:

- Re-positioning store employees (discourage theft by placing employees near key areas of the store and high-value items).
- Have employees and customers retreat into a secure area of the store.
- Take mental notes about the perpetrators, such as their physical appearance, as well as any stolen property and then document it after the incident.
- Preserve areas touched by the offenders to aid in evidence collection.
- And, have security footage of incidents readily available for police.

Click here to download the full report (PDF, 390 KB).