Flash rob

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A flash rob, also known as a multiple offender crime or flash mob robbery , is an organized form of theft in which a group of participants enter a retail shop or convenience store en masse and steal goods and other items.[1][2][3] Typically, store workers and employees in these cases quickly become overwhelmed by the large amount of participants and thus, are unable to stop the theft.[4][5]

The National Retail Federation does not classify these crimes as "flash mobs" but rather "multiple offender crimes" that utilize "flash mob tactics".[6][7] In a report, the NRF noted, "multiple offender crimes tend to involve groups or gangs of juveniles who already know each other, which does not earn them the term "flash mob"."[7]


The term often used by the media for this type of event is "Flash rob", which originates from flash mobs,[4] where a group of people assemble quickly, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act, and then disperse.

Flash rob dynamics[edit]

Flash robs operate using speed and sheer numbers in order to intimidate any resistance and complete the act before police can respond. While often viewed as a form of theft or looting (the illegal taking of items), these crimes more closely fit the definition of robbery because the large crowd creates an implied threat of violence should employees or bystanders attempt to intervene. Many investigations into these robberies have shown that they are planned ahead of time using social media, and the participants do not all necessarily know each other personally.

United States[edit]

Flash robs have occurred in large cities such as Chicago, Illinois[8] Portland, Oregon,[9] and Houston, Texas.[10] and Jacksonville, Florida, and even smaller cities, such as Germantown, Maryland.[11][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murphy, Pat (August 16, 2011). "7-11 flash mob: Maryland police investigate store robbery (Video)". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Justin Jouvenal and Dan Morse (August 15, 2011). "Police probe Germantown flash-mob thefts". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ Erin Skarda (12 May 2011). "Flash Mobs Turned Criminal: The Rise of Flash Robberies". TIME. Retrieved 2014-06-18. 
  4. ^ a b Dade, Corey (May 26, 2011). "Flash Mobs Aren't Just For Fun Anymore". NPR. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ Vaughan, Annie (June 18, 2011). "Teenage Flash Mob Robberies on the Rise". Fox News (FOX News Network, LLC). Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ Jeffrey Ian Ross (2013). Encyclopedia of Street Crime in America. Sage Publications. ISBN 141299957X. Retrieved 2014-06-18. 
  7. ^ a b "Multiple Offender Crimes" (PDF). National Retail Federation. 2011. Retrieved 2014-06-19. 
  8. ^ Jargon, Julie and Brat, Ilan (June 9, 2011).Chicago Police Brace for 'Flash Mob' Attacks." The Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ Hanrahan , Mark & Iboshi, Kyle (April 10, 2012). "'Flash rob' like theft in Portland on rise in U.S.". KGW News (Portland, Oregon). Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  10. ^ Azad, Sonia (December 9, 2011). "Flash mob robbery caught on camera at Galleria area store". KTRK TV (Houston, Texas). Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Police Investigate Silver Spring 7-Eleven Mass Theft". Media Services Division, Montgomery County, Maryland. November 21, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2013.