Coming to a city near you: Flash mobs

Posted on September 12, 2011 by


We are in a recession. That’s indisputable, regardless of your political alignment or persuasion. And though we would wish it to be otherwise, one of the darkest consequences of economic downturn is an increase in violent crimes.

One of the most increasingly popular and violent forms of crime are what are being called “violent flash mobs” or “flash robberies” – high-speed, seemingly random acts of mass violence or theft, usually involving ten or more attackers, and usually involving a high level of planning and communication on the part of the participants.

Flash mobs are defined as: “A large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, and then quickly disperse.” Flash mobs become criminal when the “unusual and pointless act” happens to be violent assault on other human beings.

But lest you think I am guilty of fear-mongering, let’s take a look at the month of August alone, based on a short list that I compiled from just a few quick searches on the internet.

  • 8/3 – Madison, WI, 4 gang-bangers target innocent passer-bys, using a strategy called “point ‘em out, knock ‘em out.”
  • 8/4 – Hundreds of rioters engage in multiple attacks and assaults at the Wisconsin State Fair.
  • 8/5 – A flash riot breaks out in Richmond, VA. Five arrests are made.
  • 8/6 – Teens involved in violent beatings in Chicago.
  • 8/7 – Little Rock AR, man beaten by a group of 7 or more teens until unconscious, then robbed.
  • 8/8 – 64-year old man attacked, beaten, and robbed by a group of teenagers. This was their third strike in less than a month.
  • 8/13 – Germantown, KS, a 7-11 convenience store is ransacked by a flash robbery of 30-35 individuals.
  • 8/13 – Kansas City, KS, three teens are shot during a flash mob just a few blocks away from the mayor’s speech.
  • 8/14 – Philadelphia, a 22-year old man is attacked by a group of teenagers before being rescued by plainclothes police officers nearby.
  • 8/16 – Wilmington, DE, a deliveryman is viciously attacked, beaten until unconscious, and robbed.
  • 8/18 – Washington DC, a mob of teenage girls flash robs a convenience store.
  • 8/19 – 18-year old man is attacked by a flash mob of 7 and beaten in Chicago.
  • 8/24 – Roving bands of 10-15 teens charge and attack cyclists near the Missouri Botanical gardens.
  • 8/31 – Three flash robberies at liquor stores in Atlanta, GA.

Not all of the results that I found were listed here, usually due to lack of evidence to identify the occurrence as a “flash mob.” I have no doubt that this form of crime is now taking place at least daily somewhere in the US – and it is growing in its frequency, with August having the most occurrences of violent flash mobs year-to-date.

Flash mobs are a very real possibility, and they present a very real danger to law-abiding citizens. If you don’t already take your personal protection and that of your family seriously, now is the time to start. This is your life. It’s your family. And you only get one shot at it.

The Mossberg 500, Ruger GP100, and Springfield X-9

Each of these guns represents a different facet of the lethal force continuum. It's up to you to decide which one best meets your needs.

Flash mobs are completely unpredictable and can often turn deadly.  One trend that we have seen become increasingly prevalent is flash mobs using social media and mobile phones to coordinate, often more effectively than law enforcement personnel. A good example of this is the riots in London and elsewhere in the UK last month. Rioters famously used the Blackberry Messenger application on their mobile phones to coordinate assaults, thefts, and other violent crimes with lethal precision.

This represents a fundamental shift in the self-defense paradigm. We’ve gone from an expectation of dealing with 1-2 assailants at close ranges to as many as 30 attackers at a variety of distances, almost always in a public place, and likely in times and places where our whole family could be at risk.

So this forces us to think differently about self defense than we have in the past. My favorite J-frame revolver may not have enough bullets to deal with an angry flash mob. In situations like this, a reliable high-capacity auto-loader might be the more effective choice, if you can carry it. On the other hand, the J-frame may work just as well given that the goal is to confuse and disengage (and get your family out of dodge) rather than stop all of the hostiles. That’s a decision you need to make for yourself and for your family.

That said, I will be interrupting our normal programming to spend the remainder of the week here at the Gentleman Adventurer blogging some of the things you need to know to prepare yourself for what could be the fight of your life.