Ore. flash mob scatters when clerk grabs bear spray

PORTLAND, Ore. - Police are investigating another 'flash rob' - one that got ugly real quick but was stopped by a can of bear spray.

The crime happened around 11 p.m. Friday at the Max Mart & Deli at 12128 E. Burnside Street.

Police were called there on a report of a disturbance between a clerk and a young man. When officers arrived, employees told them a group of around 15 to 20 young black males and females had chased a white man and a woman into the store. The woman asked the clerk to call 911 and the group began taking items off the shelves.

One of the employees was able to grab one of the thieves, a young black woman around 17 to 18 years old with a heavy build. The teenage girl reportedly hit the employee several times and then took off.

Meanwhile, the woman who had been chased into the store ended up in a fight with a young black man, also around 17 to 18 years old. When his group returned to get him, an employee brought out some bear spray and at that point everyone, including the man and woman who had been chased into the store, ran.

The spray, used by campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, is designed to repel bears in case of attack.

Police do not have anyone in custody at this point. They would also like to talk to the man and woman who were chased into the store.

The store's manager, Prakash Thapa, said one of his clerks ended up with a swollen eye and some bruising. The teenagers got away with food and beer and left behind about $400 in damage.

Although the clerk was not seriously injured, Thapa is worried that if police do not catch the group of teenagers, they might come back. And he fears next time things could be worse.

"I don't want to die making minimum wage," he said.

This is the third 'flash rob' theft in a month here in Portland.

The first one happened at a Chevron gas station at Southeast 92nd and Foster. A dozen teenagers left a party and decided to fill their pockets with items from the station's store. Some of those involved later confessed to police.

Less than a week after that, a group of boys went into the Nordstrom store at the Lloyd Center mall, stuffed clothing into a bag and ran out. Police are still searching for the suspects in that theft.