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Rob Mobs: A Growing Threat

The newest crime wave in America is being driven by rob mobs– gangs of teenagers who storm stores and public transportation with the express intent to rob or commit violent acts. They’ve even been known to attack individuals, making this a problem everyone needs to be aware of to protect their possessions and their safety. Understanding what rob mobs are, where they operate, the forces behind them, and what you can do will help bring this growing threat to a sudden halt.

What Are Rob Mobs

Rob mobs are groups of teenagers who assemble with the aim of robbing or mugging. Any unemployed or readily available teenager can be recruited. Rob mobs may number between twenty to fifty teenagers, though rob mobs of more than fifty have been reported in some cases.

Most rob mobs do not appear to be heavily armed. They are not necessarily unarmed – many have small knives or sticks for attack groups – but many retail store hits are reporting physical attacks rather than hold-up types of situations. Still, in a mob mentality, escalation to greater violence often happens quickly, and assaults on store clerks and citizens are commonly a part of rob mob attacks.

Where Are They Found

Rob mobs are primarily an urban phenomenon. Appearances have been reported in Philadelphia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York City, and Washington D.C.  They began about two years ago and have continued to spread since that time. Currently, the largest number of rob mobs being reported is in Chicago, where rob mobs are attacking both physical store locations and individuals who can be isolated and surrounded.

Police in cities acknowledge that there are problems, but feel limited in their abilities to respond. One beat cop can’t arrest a mob of fleeing teenagers, and having only one or two teenagers get caught in any given mob attack gives the others a feeling of invincibility. As a result, rob mobs continue to grow.

What Is Behind The Rob Mobs?

When rob mobs first appeared, some social analysts and crime reporters tried to link them to organized crime. However, as time has passed, a clear link to gangs or mafia groups has not been established. This is partly because the items stolen by rob mobs are too small to be of serious interest to most gangs or crime families – convenience store items, food items, and clothing that is generally in the size of person doing the snatching.

Instead, a more likely candidate behind the emergence of rob mobs is teen unemployment.  For minority youth in America, the unemployment rate hovers at around 45%, dipping slightly in the summer but persistently high. With little else to do and few options for earning additional income, urban youth are turning to new thrills and new opportunities for picking up the kinds of small trinkets that are coveted goods among teens.

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook help mob members connect with each other and coordinate places to meet. Without anything meaningful to do with their time or gainful employment to keep them off the streets, urban teens are just waiting for the next text message or tweet to guide them through the day. The thrill of breaking the law and not getting caught can be addictive, leading to more rob mobs and escalating seriousness of mob attacks.

What You Can Do

Responding to rob mobs takes a different approach if you are a business owner or an individual. For business owners, limiting the number of teens permitted into a store has long been an available tactic, and one that has been successfully used to limit crime in cities like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami. For individuals, being aware of your surroundings and not flashing bits of wealth like iPads or jewelry helps cut down on your status as a target.

Rob mobs are a trending feature of urban life, but not one that has to continue. Finding constructive things for teens to do and monitoring neighborhood youth can cut down on crime.  Proactively limiting groups of teens from accessing stores or loitering will also help. When rob mobs find that it’s more difficult to operate, they will turn to something else.

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