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Security spotlight: shoplifting reigns supreme.

Violent crime at shopping malls gets a lot of attention, but a study done by Chain Store Age Executive, in conjunction with the Department of Sociology at the University of Florida and Loss Control Solutions, shows that the types of crimes that receive the most attention - carjacking, kidnapping, arson, rape, homeside, and other serious crimes - are the least likely to happen.

The National Shopping Center Security. Report looked at all aspects of shopping center security, including personnel, budgets, equipment, training, salaries, and incidents of crime. The survey went out to all operational shopping centers and malls in the United States that are listed in the Directory of Major Malls and have a gross leaseable area (GLA) of 250,000 square feet or larger. Of the 2,255 surveys sent out, 352 were returned, making the rate of response 15.8 percent.

To make sure that the incident reporting was fairly accurate, the survey first asked about the shopping centers' reporting and logging habits. The study divided the types of records into five categories of security incidents: incidents against tenants shoplifting), common areas and parking, lots, property crime, violent crime, and public assistance.

According to the report, the shopping centers reported impressive record-keeping habits in these categories. Overall, 83.2 percent of the centers keep records on tenant crimes; 94.2 percent on common area and parking lot incidents; 92.3 percent on property crimes; 91.9 percent on violent crimes; and 88.1 percent on incidence of public assistance.

When examined by shopping center size, it is clear, however, that not all centers keep extensive records, says the report. Smaller strip centers reported low (less than 50 percent) percentages of record keeping in each area. while enclosed malls of all sizes showed high (approximately 80 percent and greater) percentages in each area.

The survey found that by far, the greatest security problem for] shopping centers was shoplifting - 24,503 cases were reported during 1992 in the 352 centers that responded. Incidents of disorderly conduct were reported 14,752 times during 1992; trespassing, vagrancy, and panhandling incidents were the third most frequent problem, occurring 11,964 times; vandalism was reported 5,799 times; and auto break-ins were reported 5,031 times.

The sixth most frequent incident was theft (4,378), followed by auto theft (3,456), bad checks (3,212), stolen credit cards (2,118), and simple assault (2,029). The eleventh most frequent incident was public drunkenness, with 1,556 incidents reported. The remaining crimes were each reported fewer than 1,000 times.

Those that the survey found occurred the least are the most serious crimes - and the ones that receive the most attention. Arson and carjacking were reported seventy-one times each; kidnappings were reported seventeen times; rapes and suicides were reported ten times each; homicides were reported six times; hostage taking, five times; and attempted suicides, three times.

The survey analyzes some of the most rampant problems and describes other shopping center security concerns that need to be addressed. It also compares current shopping center crime trends to those in Europe and to U.S. incidents of fifteen years ago. To order a copy of the complete report, send $10 plus $3 for postage and handling to: National Shopping Center Security Report, Loss Control Solutions, 5471 Lake Howell Road, Suite 236, Winter Park, FL 32792.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Arbetter, Lisa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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