Photos: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove
The Burbank Town Center mall has become a tense place to work for some tenants and their employees. Business owner Diana Daoud says she’s “scared” to carry merchandise to and from her car in the mall parking lot.
Also, Daoud is worried about another burglary at her second level AT&T Wireless kiosk. The business has been hit four times in less than a year-and-a-half – twice in the last few weeks. In just merchandise, the burglaries have cost Daoud more than $20,000.
She wants the “… mall to put in cameras …do whatever other malls do.” About two weeks ago, Daoud went before the Burbank City Council and pleaded for help in getting security cameras in the mall and its parking lots.
I met with Daoud at her AT&T Wireless kiosk on Tuesday, August 19. Daoud appeared nervous and fearful about being watched – not by suspected criminals, but by mall security! Daoud said she was afraid of reprisals from management for talking to me. I had a camera and was taking notes during our chat.
I had heard about crimes at two other businesses, so I stopped at one of them after leaving Daoud’s kiosk. An employee confirmed the owner’s briefcase had been stolen from that “cart” location on Thursday, August 14. He did not know the details, but “a lot” of money was involved. Some tenants put the loss at around $2,000.
Before heading downstairs to try to get reaction from management, I stopped at a third business on the second level. I asked the owner if he had been a victim of crime? He said yes. I identified myself as a blogger working on an article about security at the mall. He responded with an eager “yes ” to my request to ask him some questions.
Later via e-mail I would find out that this owner (who doesn’t want his name used) has been a victim of what he called “a few minor robberies, the largest resulting in a loss of $500.” Also, this business owner expressed concerns about “retaliation for bad publicity” from the management. He says he has seen other owners punished and did not want to share their fate. In general, he likes the mall and makes a good living there.
We did not get a chance to have much of a discussion on the day I dropped by his business, because we were interrupted by as many as four security guards. One of them accused me of soliciting. Hmm, soliciting what or whom, she did not say.
I explained I was a blogger. I was then told I couldn’t ask questions in the mall without permission from management. I volunteered to go have a chat with management. The security guards, who apparently had plenty of time on their hands, escorted me downstairs through a maze of hallways to the office of General Manager Alan S. Osadchey.
A large pleasant man who smiled at me during our short conversation, Osadchey repeatedly told me “we don’t talk about security,” and would not comment directly to my questions about surveillance cameras. Osadchey did say, “… we are very concerned about our tenants and shoppers…” (I suspect there are surveillance cameras of some kind operating in the mall)
When I shook his hand and prepared to leave Osadchey said, “I would ask you to not accost our tenants.”
On my way out of the mall, Osadchey’s last words kept running through my mind: “accost our tenants” sounds like what the bad guys are doing. Maybe that is part of the problem at the Burbank Town Center. The management doesn’t quite realize the public is not the enemy, that includes bloggers and tenants: the intruders preying on folks at the mall — now those are the ones who should be targeted by security and shown the door.