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Police Struggle to Respond to "Flash Mob" Crimes

Last week, approximately two-dozen teens descended on a Maryland 7-Eleven store and stole hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise. The entire crime, sometimes referred to as a "flash mob" or "swarm," took less than a minute to complete. The offenders (which appear to be mostly juveniles and young adults) made few attempts to conceal their appearance and identity as they grabbed whatever they wanted and fled the store without paying. Despite posting the video on the Internet, seeking public assistance and employing numerous other police tactics, police still have only identified approximately half of the offenders. These types of "swarm" or "flash mob" offenses have occurred more frequently over the past summer. Some of the offenses are simply theft related, but others have resulted in violent attacks on innocent targets. Many of these offenses appear to be facilitated by the use of text messaging and social media sites.

Swarm offenses usually involve Theft Crimes, such as larceny. Larceny can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the property taken. If the property taken is valued at more than $250.00, the offense is a felony and is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison. If the amount taken exceeds $2,500.00, then the offense is punishable by up to ten (10) years in prison. If the property is taken by force or fear, the person may be charged with Robbery which is a Violent Crime. Robbery is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison no matter the value of the property taken.

If the offense involves entering a building to commit larceny, battery or another felony inside, the offenders can be charged with Burglary which is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison. People who participate with others to commit a "swarm" or "flash mob" crime are also frequently charged with Conspiracy, which can carry additional prison terms. If the offense is committed through the use of the Internet (such as a social media or texting service), it may also be charged as an Internet Crime. Internet crimes are frequently prosecuted through the federal courts. Federal offenses also often carry even harsher punishments than those available in state court.

If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a theft crime, Internet crime, conspiracy or robbery, it is important that you contact a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer can assist you in analyzing the facts of your case, identifying appropriate defenses and developing the most aggressive defense strategy possible to protect your legal rights.