Photo courtesy of iogear.com

Risk managers and business continuity planners of retail sales organizations consider many issues regarding potential increased levels of activities requiring proactive risk mitigation strategies during the start of the 2011 holiday shopping season.  However, it is a rather new dynamic for many of these risk management teams to consider flash mobs – e.g. groups of people that organize through social media to assemble suddenly in a public place – as a new threat in 2011.

And while most of us may think of flash mobs as entertaining social gatherings, perhaps it is time to recognize the potential threat  that flash mobs pose to physical security specialists as well as those IT teams assigned to information security and “keeping the doors open” projects.

According to Mac Nadel, U.S. Retail/Wholesale and Food and Beverage Practice Leader for Marsh, “…criminals have recently begun to take advantage of the method to quickly gather and swarm retail stores to steal merchandise.  These so-called ‘criminal flash mobs’ or ‘flash robs’ present a serious threat to retailers’ employee and customer wellbeing, property, bottom lines, and reputations.”

Having a plan in place and executing on it is the best way for retailers to minimize the impacts of criminal activity during flash mobs,” Mr. Nadel said.

In a new white paper published today, “Responding to Flash Mob/Rob Events”, the Marsh group outlines several 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.

Click here  to read the full press release by Marsh for more details and to download a copy of this new whitepaper.  (registration required) or http://usa.marsh.com/

In response to the rise in popularity of this type of retail theft, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has compiled guidelines and protocols of more than 100 retail companies to better understand how to respond. Click here  to download a copy of NRF’s “2011 Multiple Offender Crimes” white paper.

If applicable, please pass this information along to those security professional team members in your organization.  And for those private sector companies that may be affected by potential flash mob activities, please pass this info along to those PS-Prep strategy planning company team members.  

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