Friday, August 19, 2011


Ottawa businesses are now being threatened by a new trend in crime that has moved up from the United States.

So-called "flash robs" involve crowds of young people rushing into a store and grabbing goods with no attention paid to cameras or cashiers.

Two such incidents have happened in Ottawa in past weeks, including a mob of more than 40 who trashed and grabbed their way through a west Ottawa convenience store in July.

"What can we do?" asked cashier Elias Dxafaii. "We can't tell them everything; we can tell them that it's not good to steal, that there's cameras."

That spree cost the store $800 in food and damages, with another, earlier case at a grocery store also proving destructive and costly.

"Some started to knock products off the shelf and breaking stuff, once a lot of them heard the breaking sound a lot of them started to panic," said Tom Wilson, the owner of Wilson's Grocer in south Ottawa. "Anyone in the store could have been hurt."

These "flash robs" are linked to crimes that spread over social media in the United States.

In some instances, mobs ran into high-end clothing stores and grabbed jeans off the racks, completely ignoring the store's security methods.

Police said they're trying to stop the youth before they can plan.

"(We're going) to social media, the ability to use technology to organize and gather," said Murray Knowles with the Ottawa police, who are creating Facebook profiles to look for leads.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Stefanie Masotti

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