CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Flash mob shoplifting rising across the country

Aug 21, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: 8:12 pm

Image of a shoplifter. A new trend of flash mob shoplifting is on the rise across the country. (Can...

A new trend of flash mob shoplifting is on the rise across the country. (Canva)

(Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new trend of flash mob shoplifting is on the rise across the country. Notably, a Los Angeles Nordstrom was recently stormed by 30 individuals who stole a combined $300,00 worth of merchandise.

While this is becoming more common in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and New York City, it is not exclusive to them. It has happened in Utah, with an Apple Store in Farmington being robbed in November.

County attorney for Davis County Troy Rawlings told Dave and Dujanovic that flash mob shoplifting is a coordinated effort.

“It’s a brazen calculation on their part that goes far beyond traditional retail theft. This is organized crime,” he said. “This is the type that if we could apprehend and catch them … (they) could actually be prosecuted under potentially racketeering depending upon the situation.”

This organization can be seen in the case of the Apple Store in Farmington.

“Unfortunately, at the Apple store, no one’s been apprehended yet,” Rawlings said. “They’re very organized. They’re very concealed. They took steps to make sure that they didn’t leave any traces of detection in the way that they covered themselves.”

Rawlings said perpetrators committing these crimes are “making a calculation on a couple of levels.”

“Calculation number one is that they’re gonna be able to get away with it,” he said. “The calculation number two is if they get caught, depending upon the jurisdiction, that the prosecution won’t be significant enough that it’s worth the cost of business to do it.”

What can retailers do about flash mob shoplifting?

However, according to Rawlings, retailers are not defenseless.

“In Utah, we have an interesting code section that actually allows retailers to detain suspects on the premises for a sufficient period of time for … law enforcement to arrive,” he said.

He said the code protects retailers by defending them from any potential wrongful detention lawsuits. The code protects them as long as they have probable cause for detaining a suspect.

“There’s an interesting tool in Utah where retailers could help law enforcement by detaining these people themselves until they arrive. Should they choose to … do that,” Rawlings said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Keep reading: Apple Store in Farmington robbed Friday morning

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Flash mob shoplifting rising across the country