Almost once a week, a shopper finds herself face-to-face with a bad guy at a South Florida mall. And in nearly one of four cases, he’s got a gun. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel analyzed the most violent crimes at South Florida malls over five years and found women are most likely to be targeted; most crimes occur in daylight; parking lots and garages are the most dangerous places at a mall, but security is often concentrated inside the mall; in four of five cases, surveillance cameras were non-existent, broken, or captured only flawed and useless images, and in three of four cases, a suspect is not arrested.
From 2003 through 2007, more than 22,000 crimes were reported at 13 major malls in Broward, Palm Beach and north Miami-Dade counties. Shoplifting and car burglaries were by far the most common incidents. There were 508 violent crimes. About half of those involved scuffles between patrons, or between shoplifters and store loss prevention officers. The Sun-Sentinel focused on the other half – the most serious attacks on shoppers and mall employees.