NRF issues guidelines, but finds flash mobs less serious then assumed
WASHINGTON—In response to the concern over “flash mobs”, those spontaneous gatherings planned through social media, the National Retail Federation last week released guidelines to help retailers deal with the new threat. However, it appears flash mobs are not as prevalent as the media would have people believe.
Because of media reports about flash mobs everywhere, the NRF decided to conduct its first-ever survey of retailers and their experience with multiple offender crimes. “We were expecting to find this overwhelming number of flash mob incidents across the country,” Joe LaRocca, senior asset protection advisor at NRF, told Security Director News. “But as we quickly learned, the reality is that none of these incidents have to do with flash mobs. They are traditional crimes with multiple offenders.”
In the survey of 106 retailers, 79 percent reported being a victim of a multiple offender crime in the past 12 months, while 10 percent reported being victimized by multiple offender criminals using flash-mob tactics. Though it was the first survey of its kind, LaRocca says the 79 percent figure is not a surprise. “Multiple offender crimes are a decade-old problem,” he said. “Nothing new about that.”
The NRF found only about one in 10 retailers surveyed were victims of flash mobs. “That’s a fairly low percentage,” LaRocca said. “There’s obviously a lot of hype in the media and implied definitions of flash mobs.”
But flash mobs do happen (last month, a flash mob of 40 teenagers hit a Sears store in Upper Darby, Pa., and stole thousands of dollars of merchandise), which led the NRF to issue the new guidelines. While most retailers have numerous policies addressing multiple offender crimes, LaRocca said the new one that should be implemented to counter flash mobs is a policy for how the retailer monitors social media platforms and the Internet for signs of potential flash mobs.