CHICAGO
11/07/2013 01:15 pm ET Updated Nov 07, 2013

Sports Authority Flash Mob Robberies In Chicago Show Troubling Trend Of Retail Theft (VIDEO)

The five-finger discount now has a lot more hands.

The troubling shoplifting trend of flash mob robberies hit three Chicago-area Sports Authority stores this week, ABC Chicago reports.

Police say a group of between five and six people have ripped off thousands of dollars in merchandise in a string of flash mob robberies at one city and two suburban locations. Surveillance footage (embedded above) shows the mob running out of the stores with handfuls of goods; in some cases, the looters are seen dragging entire racks of pricey merchandise like coats and jackets.

Sports Authority spokeswoman Janet Reinhardt told NBC Chicago the “organized retail crime group” hit Chicago’s multi-level Clark Street location in Lakeview on Saturday, followed by robberies at suburban Burbank and Frankfurt locations on Monday.

So-called "flash mobs" were once the domain of viral video-baiting marriage proposals and highly choreographed public dance scenes. Increasingly, the term is now linked to in-store robberies where perps overwhelm a store and quickly loot it by surprise.

“They used to just be fun. They used to just be positive and now, I don’t know, it seems to have turned into something negative,” one Sports Authority shopper told CBS Chicago.

This summer, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new law cracking down on violent flash mobs -- albeit ones linked more closely to "wildings" -- organized through social media.

Sports Authority said it's working with Chicago area police. No one is in custody as of Thursday afternoon and Sports Authority is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. The retailing is asking anyone with information to call 877-872-6959.

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