An armed robbery Sunday afternoon at the Mondawmin Mall has employees worried about their safety, but some staff and merchants said they were concerned long before a group held employees of a mall jewelry store at gunpoint.
“Security is a problem — I don’t like to work at this mall,” said Belal Hossain of the NS Jewelers kiosk. He said the kiosk’s glass showcases have repeatedly been broken into over the nearly three years that he’s worked there.
“Ask any employee. Their life is not safe,” he added.
Sunday’s robbery of RK Jewelers is one of four commercial robberies at the mall so far this year, Baltimore police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said in an email. He said the department has increased vehicular and foot patrols outside and inside of the mall in response to the latest incident.
Representatives at the mall’s internal security and management offices declined to provide comment Tuesday.
Rachel Wille, a spokeswoman with Brookfield Properties, the mall’s owner, said in an email that the company would provide “whatever assistance necessary to aid in [the police department’s] investigation of Sunday’s incident” and is constantly reviewing and evaluating its security procedures to ensure the well-being of mall-goers and employees.
“Their safety, and that of our community, is our number one priority,” she said.
But while some of the tenants said they appreciated the added foot and vehicular patrol, they questioned how long it would last and what other procedures the company would put in place to ensure their safety.
On Monday, some of the shops and kiosks shut their doors in solidarity with the robbery victims, store owners said. RK Jewelers remained closed Tuesday. Signs on its windows and front gate read “Protect Mall from Daily Incidents,” “Malls Are For Shopping Not For Shooting,” and “Safety First,” among others. Employees did not answer calls to its Mondawmin location. It was not immediately clear when the store would re-open.
Sunday’s robbery occurred during mall operating hours -- at approximately 4:20 p.m. -- when four male robbers wearing masks entered the store, police said. No injuries were reported.
Daniel Coven, of the Cellaris cellphone kiosk, participated in Monday’s protest and said mall management — as well as city leaders — have demonstrated a lack of concern for tenants and customers through their inaction up until this point. He said management threatened to impose fines on stores that remained closed. Brookfield Properties did not immediately respond to questions about this fine.
Coven also said it should not have taken an armed robbery for the mall to provide additional security and for police to deploy more officers.
“Nothing adds up,” he said. “They’re here just because of what we did yesterday.”
Coven has only worked at the mall for about six months but said he has already considered finding another job. He said he’d prefer to work somewhere with more armed guards and more responsive management.
“I’d say it’s complete and utter chaos here,” he said. “Meanwhile, the mayor hasn’t come down to talk yet. Everyone’s no comment, no comment.”
Lester Davis, spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said while the mayor has not visited the mall yet, he is planning to visit sometime this week and make clear to tenants that “safety is the priority.”
Meanwhile, other jewelry stores have begun taking precautions. Eddy K., a sales associate at Treasures The Diamond Place, said the store has limited how much merchandise to display to deter potential robberies or burglaries from taking place. The store also took part in Monday’s protest.
“We have to make the mall a safer place,” said Eddy, who refused to provide his last name. “It’s bad, to be honest.”