Cops Preparing ‘Strategic Response’ to Flashrob Mobs

Doug Hempstead, Ottawa Sun, August 1, 2011

In the wake of two so-called flashrobs in recent weeks, Ottawa cops are ramping up their efforts to fight crimes being planned through social media.

The news comes after separate groups of thieves stormed into two businesses over the past few weeks and made off with handfuls of stolen merchandise in a matter of seconds.

The Quickie store at Parkdale Ave. and Scott St. was robbed July 16 and the Independent Grocer in Alta Vista was hit July 23. Police don’t think the two crimes are related, but know these types of robberies are often planned through social media like Twitter and Facebook.

They’re hoping somebody recognizes the thugs in the video, available on ottawasun.com, but the best way to fight this kind of crime is to stop it before it happens.

“That’s extremely challenging,” said Inspector Don Sweet. “You have to be on the inner-circle to get tipped off. It’s pretty hard to become friends with people with criminal intent on Facebook when you’re a cop.”

Sweet said the flashrobs are nearly as quick to organize as they are to carry-out.

“It takes about a half-hour to organize and then the crime is instantaneous,” he said.

It’s something he’s working together with Ottawa Police’s criminal intelligence section on. That unit is the one which keeps an eye on anarchist websites and the like–which sometimes will write about intentions to disrupt major events in the city, like diplomatic or Royal visits, and G8/G20 meetings.

“It’s very challenging to pin-point smaller events,” Sweet said. “It’s all new, but we’re in the middle of a project–a strategic response to social media.”

Toronto Police is doing the same. The force aims to have nearly 200 cops with Facebook pages and Twitter profiles before Christmas. The new project is set to be announced this week after the first set of officers gets trained.

Sweet said Ottawa will likely begin with Facebook profiles for its community policing offices or the constables assigned to them.

“Will we have a Tweeting chief? Who knows. With Vern White, I’d say it’s definitely possible.”

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  • Anonymous

    Can’t the phone companies help the police, with some good old-fashioned racial profiling, to capture the tweets and phone messages of these punks, then use that information to round them all up after the fact, if not in time to catch them in the act?

  • Anonymous

    More blacks who are “disrespecting” others.

  • zone

    Canadian authorities seem to have already started on a good path to snarl some attacker’s and organizer’s by enrolling spies into involved social networking sites. If organizer’s can be proven responsible for scheduling place and time for these interracial attacks by mob, whether it be Canada or the USA, then they should be charged as accessory’s. That in the USA we have an AG that has yet to act, or even comment on these attacks, is another reason his subordinates at the DOJ will likely applaud when he finally vacates or is booted.

  • Tim in Indiana

    “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Quickie Convenience Stores Corp..”

    “Sorry about that.”

    Sounds like a coverup to me.

  • fred

    I’ve been trying to think of how to stop this and I can only think of a couple of things. First, a flashmob hotline with a way to upload video from cellphones. That way bystanders could identify potential flashmobs and have plainclothes officers tracking them before they even had a chance to strike. Plus, video would be the only way to identify members of a group like that afterward. And, second, they could use “dye bombs” kind of like they have for bankrobbers. Lob a handful of dye bombs into a flashmob and then they’d be easier to catch. Particularly if there was a very strong odor mixed in with the dye. I’m thinking eau de la skunk.

  • racial profiling

    Before the”civil rights” movement cops would break up groups of “youths” and send them packing before they got into trouble but now this is illegal because it worked

  • rockman

    If your a professional victim the criminals will come to you first.

  • Lc

    Here is a good link

    http://goo.gl/G9x25

    Its amazing to me , Ottawa has a small Black population,, yet this sort of thing happens. Just imagine when we let more in from these black countries.. It’ll look like Detroit !!!

  • Sardonicus

    All right, where is the history of racism and legacy of slavery in Canada? Now I get it: the “youths” are in poverty, of course!

  • Anonymous

    Hi. I am a Canadian (white) and I live in Scarborough, Toronto. I have many thoughts on this. My region was one of the first areas to be inundated with blacks when they began arriving here in the late 1960’s after the Liberal party let them in. They have been a bane here in Scarborough ever since, causing much crime and mayhem in what was once a lovely, safe and good place to raise a family. First, it seems to me, from his name, that you basically have a bunch of black guys robbing a brown guy. It also seems like an immigrant being robbed by equally alien non-Canadians. Thus I really don’t feel a lot of sympathy. But one thing does tug at me. I am really glad this happened in Ottawa, and not where I live. Let all the politicians and career bureaucrats making big money working in the federal government see what their mass immigration has done to other areas of the country. Let them get a taste of their own medicine. Let them be the ones to suffer the consequences of their actions, rather then innocent people hundreds or thousands of miles away who were never asked if they wanted their country and neighbourhoods changed.

  • Anonymous

    According to statistics used by Ottawa police services, blacks have surpassed other races as the largest ‘visible minority’ ethnic group in the Ottawa region.

    The blacks are mainly housed in apartment ghettos in places like Gatineau, Elmdale or Bayshore, far removed from the Glebe or Rockcliffe neighborhoods where the wealthy white liberals make their homes.

    As usual, nobody has the courage to connect race to the behavior.