Sports Authority stores in Chicago have been the target of "flash robs."
Sports Authority stores in Chicago have been the target of "flash robs." - 
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Sports Authority stores in Chicago have gotten hit by “flash robs” -- teams of thieves yanking whole racks of Starter jackets out the door at top speed. What’s new here is the coordinated approach to this kind of in-your-face shoplifting -- and the highly-specific shopping list. So, what can stores do to protect themselves? 

David Williams runs the Regional Organized Crime Task Force for the Cook County State’s Attorney. (He’s also the first person I heard use the term “flash robs.”) 

Here are a couple of tips from him: Tie down your merchandise, and keep the best stuff away from the window or the front of the store. 

Of course, he recognizes that stores are also trying to attract paying customers. "And they want to put the fancy products in front of the window. But that also makes it easier to steal."

Curtis Baillie runs Security Consulting Strategies. Retail is his specialty. He says there’s not a lot stores can do. Make sure the video cameras are working. Then, train staff to lock down the registers at the first sign of trouble -- and get out of the way.

"If possible, maybe an employee can get out the door and get some license plate numbers if that’s available," he says, "but not to interfere and not to get hurt."

Safety first.


Follow Dan Weissmann at @danweissmann