Police to increase presence after brazen mall crime

Holiday shoppping safety tips offered, but officer says, ‘These things can happen anywhere.’

An armed mid-afternoon carjacking in a Dayton Mall parking lot as the busy holiday shopping season nears has police searching for the perpetrator and offering tips to help avoid being victimized.

The brazen Saturday afternoon theft outside of Macy’s is unusual, police said. But the Englewood woman who escaped injury as her car was stolen at gunpoint appeared to be scolding herself when she told dispatchers: “I shouldn’t have come by myself.”

Miami Twp. Police Department Public Information Officer Pat McCoy said being alone in a parking lot “in any shopping district” — especially this time of year, when studies show robberies increase – is not advisable.

While police plan to step up their presence near shopping areas for the holidays, McCoy recited a list of area shopping hubs in the region before saying, “these things can happen anywhere.”

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McCoy called the crime that occurred about 1:40 p.m. Saturday an anomaly, noting that they “usually happen after sunset. But these things are random. There’s no predicting them.”

A safe shopping environment is the Dayton Mall’s “top priority,” and measures include both maintaining security and working with police around the clock, according to mall General Manager Dave Duebber.

Saturday’s crime comes just days before Black Friday and the beginning of December, when robberies increase, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Robbery is one of two crimes - personal larceny is the other – that increase about 20 percent in the year’s last month, according to the NCVS.

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Saturday’s victim told police she was walking to her black Buick Regal on the mall’s north side when she dropped her purse as she was approached by a young man, records show.

“I went to pick (the purse) up, and he had a gun … I was scared he was going to shoot,” the woman said in a 911 call as she fought back tears.

“He said if I don’t give the keys he’s going to shoot me … I gave him the keys,” she added. “He showed me a gun. He pointed it at me. He said ‘hurry up.’”

The woman told the dispatcher she did not need an ambulance.

A 911 caller said the thief “was trying to force (her) to get in the car” before the suspect sped off into traffic on Ohio 725 and shoppers came to the woman’s aid.

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The black Regal has black tinted windows with the license plate number GQA 6783, police records show. McCoy said the car has chrome trim.

Another 911 caller from Jefferson Twp. said he later saw the car speeding up Interstate 75 before turning west on U.S. 35 after apparently having fled police.

Police are reviewing security cameras to get a better description of the thief. Anyone with information on the thief is asked to call Miami Twp. police at (937) 433-2301.

Throughout the year, the mall provides escorts for guests who want to be accompanied while walking to their vehicle, Duebber said. Those interested can call the mall’s security office at (937) 433-1919.

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•Park in a well-lit area as close to your destination as possible.

•Choose to do your holiday shopping at malls that take security seriously.

•Avoid using restrooms that are tucked away in a back area of a mall or store department.

•Don’t overload yourself with packages.

•Always know where the closest exits are located.

•Take extra care when returning to your car.

SOURCE: securitytoday.com

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