Montgomery County police said a curfew for minors could have prevented a flash mob robbery.
A weekend flash mob robbery at a Germantown, Md., 7-Eleven prompted the Montgomery County police chief to call again for a teen curfew.
At least two dozen teens and young adults were caught on surveillance video Saturday grabbing items from store shelves and walking out without paying. The clerk said he felt helpless against them.
“They basically took over that store for the minute they were in there,” Chief Thomas Manger said.
Some suspects have been identified, and each is a juvenile.
“If we had a curfew law in effect, this incident could have been prevented,” Manger said.
Last month, the Montgomery County Council proposed a curfew that would require children under the age of 18 to be home by 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. It would operate like laws already enforced in D.C. and Prince George’s County.
“If a police officer sees 30 kids walking down the sidewalk and they all look pretty young – and these kids were young – we go out and say, ‘How old are you? You’re 17. You need to go home,’” Manger said.
“The county can use a curfew and bring it up every time that something happens, saying the curfew could have prevented this, but the likelihood is no, it wouldn’t have,” said Dan Reed, who blogs about Montgomery County. “I think there are a lot of proactive things we can do to engage young people and find out why destructive behaviors happen, but I think a curfew is a reactive policy and it doesn’t really do anything to deal with the issue of why teens are doing this and it doesn’t do anything to solve crime, either.”
A county council committee will review the proposed curfew in September.
Meanwhile, police and the state’s attorney are deciding what to do with the flash mob robbery suspects they apprehend.
“A lot of folks might thing, Well, this is very easy,” Manger said. “I mean, they went in there, they stole things, just charge them with theft. Well, there’s actually complicating factors there, as well. I mean, we can’t determine from the video exactly what they stole. I mean, part of the prosecution is to determine what exactly was stolen, the value of what was stolen. So all of these things we’ve got to consider.”