Thursday, December 20, 2007

Death by Mall, South Florida Style

I love my malls...and I have my favorites. I used to love the Mall at Macys in Plantation which was beautiful but went under for reasons never understood (by me). I love the Galleria Mall in east Sunrise but it means putting up with traffic on Sunrise Boulevard. Aventura is a great mall but it's so far for me in North Miami Beach. I never liked the Sawgrass Mall which smells like some kind of bologna and where the tourists run like wild buffalo. Those who know better go to Sawgrass only for what they need and leave as fast as they can. Broward Mall is still there, which is about all you can say about it. Pembroke Mall gets the most crowded award with parking during holidays an absolute horror show. There is a new Mall coming to Davie, The Commons, but it will be some time down the road, especially since Weston is fighting its coming as if it were the Antichrist. Ah Weston, you can be so compulsively anal about anything that is not masterly planned for at least fifty years...

So you can imagine how happy I was to discover the Boca Town Mall this year which I described to a friend as absolutely mind blowing. What bad choice of words....for that is exactly what happened to poor Nancy Bochicchio and her seven year old daughter Joey just last week in the mall's parking lot. And before that was a woman and her two year old who had been kidnapped at the same mall and eventually released unharmed in August. And before that was poor Randi Gorenberg who was last seen leaving the mall, only to be found shot and thrown from her mercedes this past March. Coincidence? Just now Boca residents are questioning why no news coverage was given to these earlier incidents, and the security services at the Boca Town Mall never made customers even aware. The suspect's sketch is the most information Boca residents have received thus far.

Wondering if your favorite shopping spot is safe? Check the list of malls around the country that indicate the crime rate for their area. Here are some of the top ten with Aventura taking first place in the country! Congrats Miami!

Rapes, armed robbery, car theft, car break ins, child abductions, pick pocketing....these are only a few of the more garden variety of crimes at your local shopping outlet. I won't even begin to talk about the crazy sniper shootings that recently made the news. But when I checked back even my old Malls had quite a history. A security guard was shot at the Broward Mall by someone trying to shoplift, a woman was raped in the Galleria Mall shopping lot, a man robbed the Polo outlet at Sawgrass and ran shooting through the Cheesecake Factory. Sawgrass Mills was sued & paid out a $325,000 settlement a few years back for negligence in failing to provide adequate security after a woman was assaulted in the parking lot and evidence in the case revealed that the Sawgrass Mall, which is one the largest malls in the country as well as Florida's largest retail & entertainment center and a major tourist attraction, had non-functioning security cameras, minimal security protection for their parking lots and inadequate lighting, all of which created a dangerous lure for criminal activity in its parking lot.

In case you thought the Mall you loved actually loved you back. Never mind wearing comfortable shoes, better to pack a bullet proof vest the next time you hit Dillard's after Christmas sale.

It won't stop me shopping. But it sure has me wondering what kind of damage the NRA has done to this country by making sure every criminal out there is well armed. Why have our legislators let this lobby monster grow unchallenged? When do we stand and say stop to another holiday killing, another school shooting, another needless death courtesy of the NRA?

Nancy Bochicchio and her beautiful daughter Joey are paying the price along with the rest of us. Guns do not make us free, they are making us prisoners in our own country.

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