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Maryland Coming Down On Flash Mob Crimes

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Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, left, and Montgomery County councilman Craig Rice speaking in front of the Germantown 7-11 that was victim of a flash mob robbery in November.
Matt Bush
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, left, and Montgomery County councilman Craig Rice speaking in front of the Germantown 7-11 that was victim of a flash mob robbery in November.

In Maryland, state delegate Jeff Walstreicher from Montgomery County is proposing a bill that would stiffen the penalties for those taking part in "flash mob" robberies. Two such robberies have occurred in Montgomery County this year. The first took place at a 7-11 in Germantown over the summer. Police say around three dozen people stole more than $100 worth of goods. A second, similar crime took place last month, stoking fears that these kind of crimes will become more commonplace.

"No one walks in with 50 people not agreeing to do so," says Waistreicher. "They're all going in there together with the specific intent to commit a group crime, and they should be held accountable for the entire amount of the group."

Under delegate Jeff Walstreicher's bill, each of those who took part in the robbery would be charged for stealing all of the goods, rather than just what they individually stole:" Under traditional conspiracy theories, one member of a conspiracy can be held accountable for the acts of the whole. This goes under a traditional legal theory of conspiracy."

Commander Luther Reynolds of the county police believes tougher penalties will deter teens -- the age group that made up most of those accused the Germantown robbery -- from taking part.

"It really comes down to a basic decision," says Reynolds. "Am I gonna do the right thing? Most kids all the time do the right thing. In this case, they didn't."

Delegate Waldstreicher believes he will have enough support to get the bill passed during next's years legislative session in Annapolis, which begins next month.

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