Many retailers this holiday season are preparing to protect themselves against a new threat of loss: flash mobs/robs. These events involve groups of unwanted visitors who plot via social media networks to descend on stores and other venues and, in some instances, steal merchandise.
Flash mobs present a serious threat of injury to employees and customers, damage to property, theft through shoplifting or looting, and media attention that could damage a company’s reputation.
In Responding to Flash Mob/Rob Events, Marsh outlines steps retailers should take before, during, and after a flash mob event. Marsh’s recommendations for preparing for and responding to a flash mob event include:
• monitoring of social media websites to identify potential threats;
• reviewing business interruption plans and insurance programs with regards to partial or full shutdown of a location;
• providing training to employees related to disorderly conduct, assault, theft, and looting;
• developing internal and external communications plans before an event; and
• communicating frequently with local law enforcement.
Marsh noted that 10% of retailers surveyed by the National Retail Federation this summer reported being victimized by at least one criminal flash mob event over the previous 12 months, with the occurrences often resulting in injuries to customers or employees, theft and property damage.