The mall I work at experienced an armed robbery last Wednesday (1/14). With all of the shootings and hostage taking on the news, this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal – just another day right? Well when it happens so close to you… when someone has violated your place of employment… when they are walking around a mall you work and shop in… it’s a big deal.
Sometime around noon on Wednesday, a man walked into a store (not mine) with a knife. He forced the young lady working there alone to open the register as well as the safe in the back of their store. He would have just made off with several hundreds of dollars but apparently scaring her and violating her work space wasn’t enough.
The young lady was also forced to remove her shirt, bra and eventually her pants as well. He eyed her up and down and touched her. I don’t know how. I don’t know where. All I know is that she was forced to remove her clothing and he touched her without permission.
This happened in the day time. It happened in the middle of the mall. Once he was done, he literally walked out into the mall like it was no big deal.
I am absolutely horrified and this didn’t even happen to me. Like I said, it wasn’t even my store. This should have never happened. She shouldn’t have been working alone – regardless of how slow the day was. There should have been someone who could help her or try to help her. There was no one. No other employee. No security around. This girl could have served a much worse fate and no one would have had a clue. She could have been not just assaulted but raped. She could have been killed.
The mall property management team informed no one. Wednesday, several hours after the incident they sent memos around asking for updated contact information – which they had just done 3-4 weeks ago so that really wasn’t a priority. There would come no word of the incident or that anyone should be wary of an armed man in the mall.
Thursday, we found out about the incident through the grapevine. By then, some of the information had been slightly distorted as always happens when rumors are being passed around. When asked why we were not informed immediately or why no one had yet to be informed some 20 hours later, we were told “it’s a police matter”. Um, what!? I don’t care. I want… no, I NEED to know that there’s an idiot running around the mall with a knife!
I realize in my line of work that every customer has the possibility for giving me some sort of trouble. Any person could ask me to cross the counter for a variety of reasons with the intent to harm me. That’s just the reality of a retail job. But if I know there is actually someone armed in our mall, I’d like the opportunity to decide for myself whether or not I am willing to chance it. Answer always being: Hell No.
Just 6 months ago, we experienced a shooting. A younger man shot someone he’d had a previous altercation with outside of one of the stores and entered the mall with the gun. We weren’t notified. There are emergency protocols for this and they weren’t used. It wasn’t until the mall was swarmed by police and SWAT teams were combing the mall that we had any clue.
These kinds of issues are unacceptable and make me terrified of where I work. And that is saying something. I worked night shift at a large adult novelty shop for over a year. I was frequently taking the trash out at 2am, alone. I wasn’t nearly as afraid of working there as I am when I am at the mall.
I have held this post back for a reason. I didn’t want it to instill panic in any of my local readers. I didn’t want to rush into posting this in a fit of emotion. It’s been a week and I’m still scared. I have never felt need for owning a fire arm. I’ve used them. I’m actually not a bad shot. But need one? No. But I’m starting to feel really scared. I’m starting to feel like I am not and cannot be protected at work.
It’s not my boss’ fault of course – they are just as outraged and upset about the whole thing as I am. But besides complain to mall management and our franchise liaison, there’s really nothing more they can do. Most of us at my shop are trained to use a gun – one of us even has a conceal carry permit.
I don’t really know what else to say about the situation. I’m just scared. I already told my boss that I don’t feel comfortable working alone anymore. It’s not that I am not perfectly capable of running the shop alone – it just no longer seems appropriate unless there’s an emergency.
I really need a better job. I love what I do, but the location is a serious problem.