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So-Called 'Flash Rob' Incidents Excite Concerns At Tri-State Area Malls

VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Flash mobs featuring kids committing crimes is becoming a disturbing new trend.

A recent incident at a mall in suburban Philadelphia is raising new questions and concerns about whether such mayhem could erupt in the Tri-State Area.

A group of young people were caught on a Sears surveillance camera running into the store in Upper Darby, Pa., and grabbing what they could. Police arrested 16 of the boys between the ages of 11 and 19.

Authorities said the incident was purposely planned to steal, rob and pillage. Those arrested said they learned about the time and place of the robbery via social networking sites.

Now, the same techniques used in flash mobs, where people do things like spontaneously dance to songs or sing, are being seen in so-called flash robs. It has people looking over their shoulders at stores and malls.

CBS 2's Pablo Guzman spoke with some shoppers at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream and asked them if they felt the need to be on guard when coming to the mall.

"Of course, sure. You tend not to come to the store if this is what they're going to do," Rosie Cafaro said.

Stephanie Falcone also said that the flash robs made her worry about her own teen son.

"You don't know what the kids are doing, you know, when you leave them by themselves," she said.

While no one was hurt in the Pennsylvania incident, there is worry that a potential mass robbery could trigger widespread panic.

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