As Loyola University Chicago’s Campus Safety issued a weekend warning about a crime ring nicknamed “Flash Mob Offenders” around the Water Tower Campus, an earlier Loyola Student Dispatch story shed insight into how the ring operates.
The Campus Security warning read:
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has informed Loyola’s Department of Campus Safety about a recent pattern of crime referred to as “Flash Mob Offenders.” These offenders are allegedly committing thefts within local retail stores around the Water Tower Campus community. These offenders exit the Chicago Red Line stop, go to various shops, usually clothing stores, and storm the stores, taking as many items as they can carry when running out of the store.
This Saturday, February 19, beginning at 5 p.m., there will be an increased presence of Chicago Police Department bike units, tact teams, foot officers, and Chicago Mass Transit officers strategically placed around the Water Tower Campus community. Campus Safety will also have additional officers available that evening keeping an eye on things.
A flash mob is a term coined in 2003 to denote a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment and/or satire, according to Wikipedia.
A Jan. 18 Loyola Student Dispatch story offered the following details on how the ring works:
A teenage shoplifting ring stole more than $5,000 in merchandise this week from stores on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile before being arrested near Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus.
Here is the story from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Five girls and six boys allegedly brazenly grabbed clothes from The North Face at 875 N. Michigan, AX Armani Exchange at 520 N. Michigan and Filene’s Basement at 830 N. Michigan, then fled on foot before they were arrested on the first block of East Pearson Street.
The arrests follow a spate of similar shoplifting incidents over the last two weeks on Michigan Avenue in which large groups of youths use their sheer numbers to overwhelm and confuse store employees, staff at all three stores said.
“More than 15 of them came in the store, and then one of the boy’s shouted ‘Snatch!,’ and all you could hear was hangers being ripped off rails,” said a worker at Filene’s Basement, who asked not to be named because she is not authorized to speak with the press.
As the thieves ran from the store, one yelled out “Meet you on the Red Line!” she said.
At least $280 worth of merchandise was stolen from Filene’s, while goods worth $2,720 were stolen from North Face and $2,247 from Armani Exchange.
The girls, aged between 14 and 16, and the boys, aged between 15 and 17, were arrested within three minutes of each other and were charged as juveniles with retail theft, police said.
Two of the youths were among nine juveniles arrested Sunday after shoplifting incidents at nearby Columbia Sportswear, Guess, Bloomingdale’s, and Victoria’s Secret, according to police.
“It’s a mob, that’s exactly what they are,” Sgt. Sprio Maglaras said. “They are going in and basically grabbing stuff, overwhelming the security and leaving with the sensor on.” Several of the teens used twitter to plan their attacks, he said.
Lt. Joe Schmit added that the gang “acted with such reckless abandon.”
“They just bum-rushed the door, in a herd or a pack. Anybody in their way they ran over.’’
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