Flash mobs aren’t just people bursting into song at food courts anymore.
Most people have heard of flash mobs: groups of people who convene at a set time and place to perform a coordinated activity, often organized via a viral email or text.
Now, flash mobs are converging on stores and stealing things in a trend commonly referred to as “flash robs.” Stores from Portland, Ore. to Chicago, Ill. were overwhelmed last year with young people who entered a store in sync and stole items while clerks helplessly watched.
Here in Washington, a state legislator wants to address the problem by making it easier to prosecute groups of people who organize a theft spree via text or email.
Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, has introduced a bill in the state Senate that would allow groups of nine or more people to be charged with organized retail theft if they collectively steal $250 or more in merchandise and use electronic messages to plan the crime. Existing law requires an individual person to steal goods worth $750 or more to be charged with organized retail theft, which is a felony.
Carrell’s proposal, Senate Bill 5178, will have a hearing at 8 a.m. Friday before the Senate Law & Justice Committee.