There’s a new criminal phenomenon that’s affecting small businesses, particularly in the retail sector. Known as flash robs and multiple offender crimes, this new crime involves participants using social media to organize groups to set their sites on retail stores and steal merchandise. These crime groups quickly enter a store, focus on specific merchandise (usually high-end products, like handbags and jewelry), steal large quantities of targeted merchandise, and then flee using mass transit or a waiting vehicle.
While flash mobs are a relatively new criminal activity, your business can take proactive measures to prevent an incident before it occurs.
Here are some ideas on how to protect your retail business from flash robs, including tips advised by the National Retail Federation:
1) Monitor social media. Since flash mobs are usually organized through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, monitor social media activity for signs that your retail outlet may be the next multiple offender crime target. For example, utilize TweetDeck to track mentions of your business name.
2) Hang designer clothing. Videos of flash mobs in action show that more incidents involve folded clothes as opposed to hanging clothes.
3) Display expensive items away from the entrance. Not only will this make it more difficult for the criminals to get to the expensive items, but it will increase the chance that they will be recorded by surveillance video. If you don’t have video surveillance installed, look into getting one.
4) Install a panic alarm. Protect your customers and employees by installing a strategically place panic alarm that will notify authorities when pressed.
5) Call 911. As soon as a flash mob incident occurs, call 911. The faster you act, the better the chance the perpetrators can be caught.
6) Stay alert. Instruct your employees to watch for gatherings of young groups, either outside your retail establishment’s entrance or inside the store.
While some of the tips regarding how to protect your retail business from flash mobs involve what to do after one occurs, the best action for any retail small business is to take precautions to prevent an incident before it occurs.
Learn more about protecting your small business by reading our Why You Need Commercial Crime Insurance article.