A wave of disturbing flash mob robberies has hit three separate Chicago-area Sports Authority stores this week and the retail sports equipment giant is offering a reward to catch the looters.
Police said a group of between five and six people have ripped off thousands of dollars in merchandise in a string of flash mob robberies at one city and two suburban locations, reports ABC Chicago. Surveillance video (below) shows the mob running out of the stores with handfuls of goods; in some cases, the thieves are seen dragging entire racks of expensive merchandise like coats and down jackets.
Sports Authority spokeswoman Janet Reinhardt told NBC Chicago the “organized retail crime group” hit Chicago’s multi-level Clark Street location in Lakeview on Saturday, followed by robberies at suburban Burbank and Frankfurt locations on Monday.
So-called "flash mobs" were once the darlings of the Internet with viral video-baiting marriage proposals and highly choreographed public dance scenes. Increasingly, the term is now linked to in-store robberies where gangs overwhelm a store and quickly loot it by surprise.
This summer, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new law cracking down on violent flash mobs -- albeit ones linked more closely to "wildings" -- organized through social media.
Sports Authority said it's working with Chicago area police. No one is in custody as of Thursday afternoon and Sports Authority is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.