WASHINGTON (ABC7) — 7 ON YOUR SIDE has been digging into crime reports of 25 malls in the Washington, D.C., area and have come up with a list of the top seven malls with the highest crime totals.
The ABC7 News I-Team watched closely for months as very bold crimes continue to unfold at area malls.
Three months ago at Tyson's Corner Center, three men ripped off Bloomingdale's.
Last year, two men walked into the Finishline shoe store at Springfield Town Center and stole bags of shoes.
One of the most violent? Potomac Mills mall this past March.
"It's just unreal," Lisa Drumgole said.
Police say, Lisa’s husband and father of three, Larry Drumgole, a security guard at the mall, was stabbed to death by a suspected shoplifter.
"Yes, I'm happy he was captured because you don't want him doing it to someone else," Lisa Drumgole said.
The I-Team identified through police data the Top 7 malls with the highest number of total reported crimes in more than 20 different types of criminal complaints from 2015 to 2016, ranging from the more serious crime of assault to misdemeanors including shoplifting.
Below are the Top 7 in random order:
Over the past two years, Potomac Mills saw 33 assaults, but in 2016 those assault numbers dropped and along with it, a 53 percent reduction in overall complaints.
Springfield Town Center saw a two-year total of 69 assaults, but a decrease in assaults last year from 2015.
Tysons Corner has a two year total of 99 assaults, but also saw a drop in assaults during 2016.
Tyson's Corner told ABC7 News Fairfax County Police are at the mall seven days a week and they have a far greater level of coverage than most locations.
Dulles Town Center has had 17 assaults over the past two years, but in 2016 that number dropped.
Fashion Centre Mall at Pentagon City has had 30 assaults since 2015. Thefts have dropped by 31 percent.
Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax makes our Top 7 with 26 assaults over two years, but last year the number of assaults dropped.
Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets in Leesburg had only eight assaults over the past two years, but more than 200 cases of shoplifting since 2015.
Michael Rozin, the president of Rozin Security, is one of the leading experts in mall security in the nation. Rozin has had 15 years of security and terrorism prevention experience, including years at the nation's largest mall, Mall of America in Minneapolis, as a member of an elite security team.
"Overall, malls are pretty safe," Rozin told ABC7 News.
Rozin says in 2017, a malls number one security concern has nothing to do with traditional crimes. Now, an active shooter is at the top of the list.
"The highest impact are active assailant cases. The active threat cases," Rozin said.
So how can you protect yourself?
Rozin says: "Always be aware. You don't have to be paranoid but be aware. Know your entrances and know your exits. Have a phone ready if you need to contact law enforcement or security."
You also need to create a well thought out exit plan before you even step into a mall and be prepared if you get cornered.
"If you are attempted to be robbed, try to comply to an extent; however, when an immediate physical harm is at risk do whatever you can to be safe," Rozin said.
All seven malls on our list declined an ABC7 News request for an on camera interview, but they did email the following statements:
Dulles Town Center Mall
"The overwhelming majority of incidents reported at Dulles Town Center are due to shoplifting, which unfortunately is a challenge that all shopping centers face. We believe that Dulles Town Center provides a safe and secure environment for its retailers and patrons, and we work vigilantly with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to ensure that this continues to be the case."
Courtney Rezky, director of Marketing/Retail, Lerner
Fashion Centre at Pentagon City
"Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall management and security work proactively to maintain a safe and secure shopping environment. Most of the incidents referenced do not impact the overall safety of our shoppers and mall employees, as the majority are related to shoplifting or petty theft. Our management, security and retailers take any reports of misconduct seriously, and we maintain a close working relationship with the Arlington County Police Department. Thanks to the collaborative relationship, the Arlington County Police Department has an onsite substation located at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, enhancing safety for the property, surrounding businesses and community members. Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has a robust security program in place, which includes some visible components as well as others that must remain behind-the-scenes to protect the integrity of the programs. This includes a 24-hour active patrol of the center and parking garage, use of Segways and escorts to vehicles upon request. All further inquiries should be directed to the Arlington County Police Department."
BRAVE Public Relations
Fair Oaks Mall
"The safety and security of our customers and employees is our top priority. We do not discuss the specifics of our security programs and procedures to ensure they remain effective. We have a great relationship with Fairfax County Police and appreciate their commitment to community policing and for providing a presence in the mall year around. Comparing statistics in different jurisdictions with different policing programs and between shopping malls with vastly different traffic volumes can lead to inaccurate conclusions."
Robbie Stark, General Manager
Springfield Town Center
The Fairfax County Police Department and Springfield Town Center have a tremendous partnership with great communication which has resulted in identifying and arresting shoplifters. The safety and security of our shoppers is our top priority, and we will continue to work with the Fairfax County PD to create a safe and welcoming environment.”
Kimberly Baldy, Marketing Director
"Potomac Mills is Virginia’s largest and most popular outlet and value retail shopping mall with more than 200 stores and 12 million annual visitors. In reviewing the statistics, the majority of the incidents were related to shop-lifting, something our management, security and retailer teams take very seriously. The safety of all who visit and enjoy Potomac Mills is our top priority and is achieved through proper staffing and training of our management and security personnel, as well as close communication with the Prince William County Police Department."
Jen Snitselaar, General Manager
Tysons Corner Center
"Fairfax County PD is onsite at Tysons seven days per week and working closely with retailers and customers. This is a far greater level of coverage than most commercial destinations provide and this allows the police to respond far more promptly to any concern and as a result it also leads to more interactions."
Geoff Mason, Senior Manager, Property Management
Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets
"Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets mall management and security work proactively to maintain a safe and secure shopping environment. Most of the incidents referenced do not impact the overall safety of our shoppers and mall employees, as the majority are related to shoplifting or petty theft. Our management, security and retailers take any reports of misconduct seriously, and we maintain a close working relationship with the Leesburg Police Department.
Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets has a robust security program in place, which includes some visible components as well as others that must remain behind-the-scenes to protect the integrity of the programs. This includes a 24-hour active patrol of the center lots, use of Segways and escorts to vehicles upon request. All further inquiries should be directed to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department or the Leesburg Police Department."
BRAVE Public Relations