South by Southwest (SXSW) is the music, movie and interactive festival in Austin, Texas that draws thousands of people who will eat, shop, drink, be entertained, and stay in the city for several weeks during the month of March.
Last year, more than 50,000 people attended the music festival and more than 70,000 people attended the film festival.
Dance Flash Mobs vs. Crime Flash Mobs
SXSW has a reputation for drawing crowds of music- and movie- lovers who are mostly peaceful and cooperative, but with that many people, there is always the possibility for criminal and rowdy behavior, not to mention the phenomenon that combines the two: flash mobs.
On the surface, these large, seemingly spontaneous gatherings of people seem innocent. The Internet is riddled with charming and humorous videos of flash mobs gathering at malls and on public streets where they sing, dance and do no harm.
Unfortunately, there are also flash mobs that use the sheer force of their numbers for criminal purposes, including theft. They force their way into stores, pillaging and looting, while unsuspecting employees either struggle to protect themselves and their property or run for cover.
A Five-Point Checklist for Protecting your Store or Business
To protect your employees, and your business, follow this five-point checklist to secure your property:
- Arm yourself with information. Most flash mob robberies are planned using social media. Log on and follow the conversations. Search for posts that mention your business. If you see something concerning, nip it in the bud by notifying police.
- Install surveillance cameras - and make sure everyone knows about them. There may be strength in numbers, but even the most brazen criminals can turn sheepish when they're put on camera. One great way to prevent flash mobs from infiltrating your business is to install high-resolution IP cameras in very noticeable locations. These devices can also come in handy should you need to identify participants. Posting a "Security cameras in use" sign is also helpful in deterring criminals.
- Hire extra security. It is amazing what a uniformed, off-duty police officer can do for your loss prevention efforts. No flash mob is going to attack a business with a police officer standing at the door.
- Consult with an expert. If you can't afford to hire extra security, you can still make use of the latest techniques by meeting with a crime prevention expert. There are many tools and measures you can use to protect your store and your employees that don't have to break the bank, from installing relatively inexpensive cameras to rearranging the layout of your establishment. Mall stores with an array of merchandise displayed are particularly vulnerable to flash mobs, so planning your layout in a way that protects as much merchandise as possible is important.
- Be ready. Even if you use all of the tips listed above, there is still the possibility of a flash mob robbery. If one does occur, your best defense is to have a plan, train your employees to follow it and practice it regularly. Once a flash mob attacks, acting quickly is key to limiting damage and loss of merchandise. Train your staff to immediately respond verbally and visually to flash mobs, make connecting with law enforcement easy and develop systems during which fellow businesses quickly share information about the formation of flash mobs.
For more information about security cameras and steps you can take to keep your business safe from flash mob robbery during this year's SXSW festival, contact the trusted video security experts at Supercircuits today.