Police calls to malls in the thousands
06:38 PM EST on Thursday, February 1, 2007
Reported by: David Alan
A 13News Investigation uncovers who’s lurking where you shop.
While you're inside the mall, serious criminals - from suspected sex offenders to carjackers to fugitives - could be there as well. "People seem to think they're in this cocoon of safety and they're not," said WVEC Police Analyst Mike Carey.
13News Investigates looked at thousands of calls to police in 2006 for seven malls in Hampton Roads to get a snapshot of what's really going on.
At Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach, 2006 records show police were called to investigate three stolen vehicles and two suspected sex offenders. A woman reported being abducted at the mall.
At Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News, police arrested three fugitives, investigated two reports of someone with a gun and got a call about a suspected sex offender.
At Military Circle Mall, Norfolk Police records show three reports on alleged sexual assaults and one report of a stolen vehicle. Police were called five times to investigate someone with a weapon and 34 times on reports of a suspicious person or vehicle.
At MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk, records show police were called to investigate a report of a sexual assault. Three stolen vehicle reports were taken as well.
Chesapeake Police records show a report of an attempted kidnapping at Greenbrier Mall - a women who reportedly tried to snatch a young child. Police also investigated reports of two armed people at the mall and two stolen vehicles. A suspected sex offender could not be located by police.
At Chesapeake Square Mall, police investigated reports of five stolen vehicles. Records also show six domestic assaults reported. One person with a weapon was arrested.
The most calls to police came from Lynnhaven Mall, which also is the area's largest mall. Records show Virginia Beach Police were called to investigate reports of 11 stolen vehicles. There was one arrest for a firearm and two arrests on warrants - one was for assault and battery. There were 35 calls for fights and assault and a suspected sex offender was nabbed at the mall in a sting operation.
Lynnhaven Mall management turned down our request for an on-camera interview.
We asked, by email, why, during the busy holiday shopping season, we found a number of security vehicles parked rather than circling the property.
The mall provided this answer, "…during the holiday season, the security force was augmented by the addition of roof patrols, mounted police patrols and unmarked police vehicles."
Carey stressed, "We should make no mistake about it, shopping centers and malls are not going to advertise the type of crimes and the volumes of crimes being committed on their properties because they do not want to be any less inviting to shoppers."
Some shoppers told us they were surprised at the police calls to the malls where they shop. "I'll be cautious, even in the daytime here," said Helen Havrilla.
"Yeah, kind of scary. That bothers me. You think there wouldn't be as much," said Michael and Meagan Harp.
It's important to note that a call to police, or even when a police report is taken, does not necessarily mean a crime has been committed. And all malls have security - both seen and unseen.