The recent uptick in "flash mob" robberies has spurred local agencies to find new ways to combat the growing crime trend and Montgomery County is proposing to crack down hard on the participants in such incidents.
Montgomery County Council member Craig Rice, along with Del. Jeffrey Waldstreicher, is proposing that the value of property taken from stores during these robberies be aggregated and used to determine the severity of charges against those involved.
This means that whomever gets caught, even if it's just one of many, will be responsible for everything stolen.
"We want to ensure that business owners, the community at large and our youth are protected," Rice said in a statement.
Jail time appropriate?
The proposed crackdown is getting mixed reaction.
"I think that the kids should be responsible to some degree, but I don't think that they should make the one they catch responsible for everybody else," said Oman Henderson, a Silver Spring resident.
Meanwhile, at least one victim of a flash mob robbery thinks jail time might be too harsh of a penalty.
"They're young," the 7-Eleven clerk says. "These are young people, you know."
Two spots in the county, a 7-Eleven in Germantown and a convenience store in Silver Spring, have both been hit by flash mob robberies.
In the first incident on Aug. 13, more than two dozen suspects entered the 7-Eleven at 13001 Wisteria Dr. in Germantown and took food and drinks. About 17 of the suspects were later identified.
Then, on Nov. 20, a group of about 50 teens rushed the 7-Eleven on Tech Road in Silver Spring and made off with snacks and drinks.
Retailers taking action
Flash mobs are not limited to Montgomery County. In D.C., retailers are investigating new technologies and security guards to keep the crowds of criminals away.
Kristopher Johnson, manager at Universal Gear, thinks the tougher the penalty, the better.
"This is how I make my money," Johnson said. "When people take that away, they should do a lot of time.