A former Philadelphia police commissioner predicted Friday that mass robbery crews would spread out across the country, given their success in a recent spate of California attacks on retailers. His prediction proved correct on Black Friday.
Charles Ramsey, the ex-Philadelphia commissioner, said there’s “no question” that the trend will occur elsewhere.
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“This is something now that I really unfortunately think is going to spread,” Ramsey told CNN on Thursday. “Right now it’s in California, but it will spread, there’s no question about it.”
UPDATE: The rising tide of flash mob thieves hit the Bottega Veneta store in the Beverly Grove shopping district on Black Friday at 5:21 PM. LAPD reports that one robber pepper-sprayed a victim as his teammates grabbed merchandise.
Elsewhere, a Home Depot in Lakewood, Calif. was hit at 7:55 PM. An estimated eight people stole sledgehammers, wrenches and assorted hammers, fleeing in 10 getaway cars.
In Minnesota, an estimated 30 people robbed a Best Buy store in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. They entered the Burnsville, Minnesota store shortly after 8 PM and made off with electronics gear.
Chicago saw three stores in the Wicker Park neighborhood robbed within one hour on Black Friday.
California’s Bay Area and Los Angeles have been particularly hard hit by the flash mob attacks in the last week. Six smash-and-grab robberies took place in the Fairfax District, Beverly Grove and Hancock Park on Friday.
A group of at least five men, one wearing an orange wig, entered the store and stole seven or eight purses before fleeing the scene and jumping into a newer model gray Ford Mustang that sped away from the scene, according to reports from ABC7 and KCAL9. They stole an estimated $20,000 in merchandise.
Earlier in the San Francisco area, a crowd estimated at 80 people attacked another outlet in Walnut Creek.
Newsweek reported that a Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent outlet were also robbed last Friday.
Ramsey said that Philadelphia saw something similar a few years ago. “It was really, really difficult to get a handle on it,” said Ramsey. “What we found was, one, it was being organized through social media. So one of the things we started doing is paying close attention to social media.”
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