A recent attempted abduction at a Cobb County mall has placed a spotlight on the potential dangers of mall bathrooms. Frequently isolated, the placement of mall bathrooms and department store changing rooms may leave patrons vulnerable to would-be predators.
A brave 11-year-old girl escaped an assault and attempted kidnapping in the Town Center at Cobb mall bathroom Tuesday evening, May 8, 2018. Police told The Atlanta Journal Constitution the child was “accompanied by her father to the hallway leading to the restrooms, where he remained while she went into the women’s restroom.” The young victim thought the bathroom was empty when a man hiding in another stall “grabbed the girl and put a knife to her throat” as she exited her own stall. Thankfully, she managed to break free, scream for help, and run to her father, who heroically tackled the assailant and held him for police arrival.
Despite the father’s best safety precautions and the child’s bravery and wherewithal at knifepoint, the terrifying ordeal could have easily turned tragic. Clearly, patron safety precautions are not enough. Georgia mall owners and their security teams need to proactively prevent violent crime and train employees to safely and effectively react to it.
The Beverly Police Department urges mall owners and security teams to take the following security precautions:
Mall maintenance or housekeeping personnel should be instructed to be in the restrooms every 15-30 minutes, and keep log sheets showing the frequency of these visits. In addition, mall security officers should also visit the restrooms periodically. A CCTV camera may be installed to monitor the corridors leading to the public restrooms, especially if the corridors twist and turn. Convex mirrors at corridor intersections can help mall patrons see around corners before they get there.
Victims of Georgia Mall Violence: Know Your Rights
Mall and shopping center patrons have a right to feel safe and secure while on the premises of the establishment they are visiting. By Georgia law, property owners are required to protect all patrons legally on the premises from any foreseeable harm. For example, should a mall owner or management company have knowledge of prior violence on or near property, they have a responsibility to implement additional security precautions to protect patrons and deter such crime. Should a mall owner fail in this critical responsibility, they may be held civilly liable for any injuries or wrongful deaths which occur as a consequence.
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