Police: Increased patrols for 'unusual' crime at Citadel Mall

By Stefanie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - It's known as a Holy City hot spot with nearly 100 stores and about eight million people visiting the Citadel Mall every year.

"I come to the mall at least once, twice, three times a week," said shopper Octavia Robinson. "I always have concerns about safety and the safety of others, especially in a large mall like this, but I haven't seen or been in any altercations or anything like that."

But recent crime activity has some shoppers on edge, including an incident just this past Sunday. According to police, a mother of two young children and her boyfriend were arrested on charges of child neglect after her children were found in a car outside Citadel Mall by shoppers.

And on Christmas Eve, police say a man was robbed at gunpoint in a mall bathroom, stealing his wallet and cash.

"It makes you scared walking through the mall," mall employee Amber Kelly said. "Working here during holiday season late at night when you are replenishing the store and changing things around in stores and you leave late at night, it is scary."

Charleston Police Capt. Brian Ambrose says the department has stepped up patrols at the Citadel Mall to make sure customers feel at ease.

"At this point what we have done is increased what we call 'keep it checks,' 'walk in talks,' productive or pro-active initiatives by the officers that will go by the mall, drive around outside, and be visible outside the parking lot," Ambrose said. "They will actually walk through the mall and make contact with the business owners to be visible in there."

Ambrose says despite the recent incidents, including a carjacking in November and an assault in September in the mall's parking lot, the Citadel Mall is not a bad place to be.

"It's too early to really talk about specifics of some of these things but a lot of those things actually have been very unusual. I don't want to use the term 'fluke' but they are things that are normally something we don't see," Ambrose said.{}"I think in general people should feel comfortable going there, and we encourage them to take some safety measures of their own and if they see things that concern them to not hesitate to call."

Charleston Police said they still are looking for the suspect in that Christmas Eve armed robbery. If you have any information you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.