Wilding Out

“Organized Crime” isn’t just for mobsters anymore. Prearranged pranks and assaults are an increasing threat to both the restaurant and retail industries. Often referred to as “Flash Mobs” (not the dancing kind) or “Wilding,” this type of disturbance predominately consists of groups of unsupervised teenagers that surprise attack individuals or businesses. 


These attackers often steal and/or destroy merchandise while assaulting customers and employees.  Of 129 retailers surveyed by the National Retail Federation, nearly 95 percent said they were victimized by organized criminals in the past year and 85 percent said the problem has worsened over the past three years. What has changed? The rise of social media.


Some of these episodes are terrifying. Chicago recently made headlines when hundreds of teens swarmed the famous Magnificent Mile, accosting shoppers and disrupting businesses. These attacks not only damage brand image, but also drive away desirable customers.  Delinquency, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be on such a large scale or so menacing. One of the newest videos to go viral on YouTube shows a prankster pretending to fall while exploding milk jugs in grocery store aisles, alarming customers and creating a large mess. While all of this may be funny to those involved, vandalism is not amusing to owners, employees and even customers dealing with the mayhem and aftermath.


Though law enforcement authorities have begun to closely monitor social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter where these events are organized and posted, Flash Mob thefts usually go undetected until it’s too late. An effective way for business owners to “fight back” is to ensure that their surveillance system is being used properly: display cameras on public view monitors, post signs indicating “video surveillance in progress,” use vandal resistant cameras and capture culprits in the act. Provide clips to law enforcement for prosecution and keep your locations from being seen as easy targets.


Before these events occur, be prepared.


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Matt Craig
Matt Craig is the Technology Development Manager at iTech Digital. He works with our security solutions installation and support team to build partnerships with customer IT departments.
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