'No Question' Flash Mob Robberies Will Spread Across the Country: Ex-Police Commissioner

There are fears that the recent wave of flash mob robberies, which have been occurring across California in recent days, will spread across the country.

Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia police commissioner, said that as there have been several examples of large groups of people storming into high-end stores to steal items in California, there's "no question" that the trend will occur elsewhere.

In recent days, a group of around 80 people ransacked a Nordstrom luxury department store in Walnut Creek.

On Wednesday, a security officer being attacked with Bear Spray during another mass robbery at a Nordstrom store at the Westfield Topanga & The Village shopping mall in Canoga Park.

The Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent stores in San Francisco's Union Square were also targeted in flash-mob robberies on November 19.

"This is something now that I really unfortunately think is going to spread," Ramsey told CNN on Thursday. "Right now it's in California, but it will spread, there's no question about it."

Ramsey said that Philadelphia saw something similar a few years ago when groups of up to 20 teenagers and young adults would rush into stores such as Macy's and take as many items as they could in a short period of time.

He said police in California, as well as the stores themselves, are going to struggle to stop further instances happening again just like officers were unable to in Philadelphia

"It was really, really difficult to get a handle on it," said Ramsey.

"What we found was, one, it was being organized through social media. So one of the things we started doing is paying close attention to social media."

Ramsey also said they were able to stop a few robberies because parents would call police and warn them their children were planning to target a store.

"I don't know what's driving all this, but it is of concern and it will continue," Ramsey said. "It is not going to stop anytime soon.

"The punishment for this kind of crime is very, very minimal. In most cases, it's a misdemeanor. Some [district attorneys] flat out said they will no longer prosecute shoplifting.

"This is not shoplifting, this is something far worse than shoplifting," Ramsey added. "So, there's a lot that has to be done if we want to get a handle on it."

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told to KABC that there will be more officers patrolling the streets during the festive season in an attempt to deter further flash mobs robberies.

"We know that when the police officers are visible in our neighborhoods, that we have safer neighborhoods, we have better interactions and we just overall are just a safer city," Moore said.

flash robberies
Beverly Hills police officers patrol in their car on November 1, 2020 in Beverly Hills. Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia police commissioner, said there’s “no question” that the flash mob robberies taking place in California will occur elsewhere. CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images