Mike Carrell Lakewood.jpg
Mike Carrell wants to protect you from "flash robs"
Flash mobs are nothing new. But "flash robs" apparently are. That's why state Sen. Mike Carrell

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Sen. Mike Carrell Wants to Nip 'Flash Robs' in the Bud - Even if You've Never Heard of Them

Mike Carrell Lakewood.jpg
Mike Carrell wants to protect you from "flash robs"
Flash mobs are nothing new. But "flash robs" apparently are. That's why state Sen. Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) has introduced a bill - SB 5178 - to set up stiffer penalties for these acts of organized retail theft - even if there's a good chance you've never heard of the phenomenon.

First off, a definition may be in order. Much like flash mobs are set up by a group of people communicating via text message or social media - with the usual outcome typically being some sort of spontaneous public dance - "flash robs," as they're awkwardly referred to in the language of Carrell's bill, are coordinated robberies set up by a group of people communicating electronically.

And according to a story by Melissa Santos of The News Tribune in Tacoma, these flash mob-style robberies have gone down a handful of times recently in Portland, Ore. and elsewhere across the country.

According to the Trib's story:

In April 2012 a group of 16 teenagers entered a gas station convenience store in Southeast Portland and simultaneously stole candy and soda while a store worker was unable to stop them.

The same month, a group struck a Nordstrom department store at a Portland mall and stole six North Face jackets, valued collectively at $650.

Then, in June 2012, about 30 to 40 teens entered an Albertsons grocery store in the Portland suburb of Troutdale and stole various items. A Walgreens drug store in Portland was targeted a few months later.

If ultimately passed, Carrell's proposed legislation, which is scheduled to be heard Friday morning by the Senate Law & Justice Committee, would make it so groups of nine or more people could be charged with organized retail theft - a felony - if they jack $250 or more in merchandise and use electronic means to orchestrate the heist. While Carrell admits to the Trib he's not aware of any flash mob style thefts in his neck of the woods or the surrounding area, he tells the paper the bizarre phenomenon is "one of those things that we really need to nip in the bud."

While Carrell hails from Lakewood, here in Seattle a spokesman for SPD says he's not personally aware of any flash mob-style robberies that the agency has investigated. However, the SPD spokesman does point out that the Major Crimes Task Force has done several investigations into organized retail theft -- including cracking down on folks stealing booze from local retailers and taxi drivers trafficking stolen property near Westlake Avenue.

Meanwhile, King County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Cindi West tells Seattle Weekly she's not aware of any flash mob-style thefts being reported in her agency's jurisdiction, and has never heard of the term "flash rob."

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