Unlike the harmless and fun flash mobs that bring smiles on YouTube, a flash rob is a sinister, and sometimes dangerous incident in which groups of people—most often teenagers—assemble quickly to steal and ransack retail establishments, and then disperse just as quickly.
Not only can there be thousands of dollars in merchandise lost in the blink of an eye, but there is risk of harm to employees and customers.
As with any other potential emergency situation, the best way to reduce your risk of loss is to have a plan in place, and to make sure employees are trained to respond to the situation according to plan.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with a flash rob incident:
- If you have a surveillance camera system, be sure to have the cameras trained on doors, cash registers, and on high-dollar merchandise.
- Loss prevention staff, or store management, should monitor social media for telltale signs that an incident is being planned.
- Make sure store employees are trained to take mental notes during an incident—they should be aware of what merchandise is being taken, and be prepared to give descriptions of offenders to loss prevention personnel and/or police.
- Employees who are not loss prevention staff should never confront offenders.
- If the ‘mob’ shows signs of becoming violent, employees should lock registers, and quickly guide honest customers to take cover with them in a safe area of the store.
- If employees notice unusually large crowds gathering near the store’s entrance, they should immediately alert loss prevention staff and/or police, and be ready to close the store to avoid being victimized.
- Store management should have an ongoing relationship with local law enforcement, which includes information sharing. Get to know officers whose beat includes your store, and encourage them to drop by on their patrols.