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Posted at 10:14 AM ET, 08/15/2011

Police probe Germantown flash-mob thefts

(Footage from the 7-Eleven surveillance camera.)
As many as three dozen young people entered a Germantown 7-Eleven and took candy, drinks and snacks early Sunday morning in what appeared to be a flash mob robbery, police said.

Montgomery County police told NBC 4 that the robberies were an ”orchestrated event.” Surveillance footage from the store shows a number of young people snatching items from shelves and stuffing them in their pockets before fleeing the store. Some of the young people have their faces masked with t-shirts.

“The number of people involved in this [shows they] clearly had a plan. . .They were in control of that store from the minute they were in there taking items off the shelves,” Montgomery County police Capt. Paul Starks told NBC 4.

A man, who was identified as the son of the store’s owner, told NBC 4 that the clerk in the store at the time hit a panic button to alert police to the robbery, but did not confront any of the young people.

“It’s shocking to see they are not afraid of any repercussions from their actions. They are all smiling. They are laughing about it,” the man said.

Police said they have identified some of the suspects, but want to hear from anyone who recognizes people in the video. Police can be reached at 240-773-6200.

Flash mobs started as spontaneous gatherings of people organized by Twitter, Facebook or other online tools to engage in dance performances, pillow fights and other public displays. In recent months, there have been reports across the country of flash mobs being organized to commit robberies and fights.

This post has been updated.

By and  |  10:14 AM ET, 08/15/2011


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