An organized “flash mob” rumored to take place at the Chicago Ridge Mall turned out to be a big bust as police kept up a visible, high presence throughout the mall on Saturday.
Chicago Ridge Police alerted stores in the mall on Friday stating they had received “credible intelligence” that the same group responsible for organizing last week’s mob action at Ford City was planning to gather at Chicago Ridge Mall the next day.
A similar alert was also sent to businesses along Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile,” WGN TV news reported.
Precautions were taken at Chicago Ridge after several hundred youths and adults entered Ford City Mall in the late afternoon of Feb. 23 with the specific mission of causing “chaos,” a Ford City spokesman said.
The group eventually spilled outside, throwing chairs taken from inside Ford City at cars and other vandalism. The melee closed Ford City and temporarily shut down Cicero Avenue.
A letter sent to stores from Chicago Ridge Police Chief Robert Pyznarski advised mall employees that if they suspected a “flash mob” starting to form to call 911 and enact their “safety plan.”
A kiosk employee inside the mall who did not want to give his name said he asked his manager what their safety plan was, but that his manager was unaware of the police alert.
On Saturday morning, Chicago Ridge Mall security was removing furniture and other objects that could potentially be used as flying projectiles.
An increased number of security and police officers from Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn and Palos Park patrolled the mall throughout the day.
Chicago Ridge cops decked out in riot gear were stationed outside the entrance to Sears directly across the street from the bus stop at 95th and Ridgeland.
While there was no specific time mentioned in the information obtained by police, prior incidents when mobs assembled tended to begin in the late afternoon up until closing time.
Police also were out in force on 95th Street, parked near bus stops to deter any groups intent on causing mischief from disembarking the buses.
By the time TV news crews showed up in the late afternoon, local police appeared to have the situation under control.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, most area police had left the Chicago Ridge Mall, but are expected to return on Sunday, ABC-7 Chicago News reported.
A “flash mob” usually applies to a group of people that gather suddenly in a public place to perform a pointless activity designed to amuse and confuse the public as a form of satire or artistic or political expression.
The term has recently taken on a darker meaning pertaining to groups of people gathering to commit acts of crime or vandalism in gatherings organized through social media.
Last month, a group of about 40 teens gathered at Chuck E. Cheese’s in Oak The youths were loud and disruptive, and flashing gang signs, according to an Oak Lawn police report.
The teens left the restaurant and got back on a CTA bus, where the driver said the youths broke a window. Oak Lawn police were able to detain some of the participants at Chuck E. Cheese’s, who said they were part of a “flash mob” that had been organized through Facebook.