- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2011

More than a dozen teens who were part of a mob that descended en masse on a Germantown 7-Eleven and were captured on surveillance videos brazenly raiding the store’s shelves and refrigerators of candy, chips and sodas have been criminally charged, police said Friday.

Seventeen people, including 14 juveniles, now face misdemeanor charges related to the mob robbery that occurred on Aug. 13.

However police are still trying to identify seven additional people seen on video inside the store to determine whether they were also involved.

The group of young people was returning home from the Montgomery County Fair in Gaithersburg, simultaneously entered the store and began stealing items like candy bars, chips and sodas. The robbery lasted just about a minute before the youths left the store together.

The group stole about $450 worth of items, and individuals involved are now charged with theft, conspiracy to commit theft, and disorderly conduct, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.

Officials declined to label the incident a “flash mob,” like several recent robberies and attacks in Philadelphia that have drawn national attention, because it was not organized online or via social networking.

“This was not organized by a tweet of a Facebook,” Mr. McCarthy said. “It was something more dynamic and occurred on the walk from the bus station to the 7-Eleven.”

“It doesn’t mean their conduct is any less culpable,” Capt. Luther Reynolds, a police commander, said.

Gathered Friday outside the Montgomery County police department’s Germantown station, officials praised the community, including school employees and peers of the teenagers involved, for their help in identifying the suspects involved in the incident.

“I think that the message is clear. You’ve got a community that’s come together and is saying that we no longer are going to tolerate things like this happening,” said Montgomery County Council member Craig Rice. “We have to make a stand and show that our community, the Germantown community, is a growing community that is safe.”

Officials are now exploring ways they can prevent any similar incidents from taking place in the county, including by drafting a new law specifically tailored to prosecute mob-related crime. The County Council is in discussion with the state delegation on the possibility of drafting a new law in next year’s legislative session to specifically address crimes committed as part of a mob, Mr. Rice said.

Police also say that a youth curfew, which was already under discussion in the County Council, could have prevented the Aug. 13 incident.

“If we had a curfew law on the books[…] it’s something that could have helped us if youth are out at 1:40 a.m.,” Capt. Renoylds said.

The incident also points to the ongoing need for positive activities to be available for you people and for parents to remain present forces in their children’s lives, Mr. Rice said.

“This is a problem with youth and making sure they understand the repercussions and the seriousness of the crimes that were committed,” he said.

The juveniles who were charged with the crimes will have their cases evaluated first by the Department of Juvenile Services, which will make the determination on whether they will be referred to the State’s Attorney’s Office for prosecution, Mr. McCarthy said. The three young adults who were also charged will have their cases heard in Montgomery County District Court.



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