Since August, two Montgomery County convenience stores have been victims of mobs of young people sweeping into the stores en masse and carrying off chips, soda and candy.
A pair of Montgomery County lawmakers are pitching legislation to crack down on these types of crimes.
County Councilmember Craig Rice and District 18 Delegate Jeffrey Waldstreicher offered a detailed look at a new bill dubbed "the Flash Mob Theft Act of 2012."
“We want to ensure that business owners, the community at large and our youth are protected," Rice said, "and believe that stricter penalties will help people understand that this type of crime will not be tolerated."
Only one clerk was working when a Germantown 7-Eleven was targeted in August.
“This is a serious crime,” Rice said. “It has an impact on businesses. The clerk who was actually there the night of the robberies quit immediately after the incident, so you’re impacting people's lives.”
Some people thought a county curfew was needed, but that idea ran into strong opposition.
In the legislation being submitted to the General Assembly next session, the prices of items stolen in a "flash mob" crime could be added together, and individuals arrested could be charged for the aggregated value. That would increase the severity of the charge leveled against any one perpetrator, and yield a stiffer penalty.
“It could result in tougher punishments, but the goal is to stop flash mobs,” Waldstreicher said.
A similar crime took place in the District in late August as well.