Flash mobs have been peaceful and exciting acts of public performance for years, often highlighting humorous dance routines. But recently, criminals have begun to exploit the anonymity of these organized crowds, reports Townhall.com
Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have made organizing flash mobs a fairly simple feat. And now, criminals are tapping into online networking to coordinate mass robberies and chaos-inducing fights.
“They’re gathering with an intent behind it, not just to enjoy the event,” Shaker Heights Police Chief D. Scott Lee said. “All too often, some of the intent is malicious.”
In London, police are blaming instant messaging and Twitter for the rioting and looting escalating in the streets.
And in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter condemned the behavior of youth participating in chaotic flash mobs after a group of 30 teenagers assaulted a local man and looted a Sears store.
“What is making this unique today is the social media aspect,” said Everett Gillison, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for public safety. “They can communicate and congregate at a moment’s notice. That can overwhelm any municipality.”
Though many of these so-called “flash mob robberies” do not cause excessive damage in terms of dollars of items stolen or injuries caused, the sheer size and speed of the mob groups makes them very difficult to control.
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