NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Expect to see new security measures at the Mall at Green Hills.
News 2 has learned that starting Friday, Oct. 13, you will see more Metro police officers patrolling around the mall, walking into the mall, and even taking extra jobs at stores inside the mall.
This comes after multiple shocking and even violent thefts at Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Nordstrom, where the bandits even used bear spray to facilitate their get-a-ways.
According to Cmdr. Lee Kendall of the MNPD West Precinct, the idea is to keep shoppers safe and put alleged criminals on notice, that if they come back to the mall, they will be caught.
In two of the snatch and grabs, the thieves used bear spray to create confusion and facilitate their escape.
News 2 has obtained the call security officers made from Nordstrom after bandits sprayed them with bear spray to escape after stealing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise.
“Five masked subjects just came in and stole purses and they just bear sprayed our agents. People in the surrounding area are coughing because it is pretty much everywhere,” a 911 caller said.
“We have had some incidents in other locations that we are aware of where they have used bear spray. We have reached out to those agencies and shared our info as well, because sometimes these incidents are related with organized retail crime,” Kendall said.
According to Kendall, if a weapon is used during a theft, it is a robbery, which is a felony crime.
Sources told News 2 efforts are being made to increase the penalties for these type of crimes.
The use of bear spray and violence has shoppers on edge.
“I’d be horrified,” one shopper said.
The heightened security response at the mall will also feature the MNPD eye in the sky. It has multiple cameras that watch and record the parking lot and activities in all directions 24/7.
“It is a deterrent for anyone who might be compelled to think they can commit a theft at the mall,” Kendall said.
Kendall also told News 2 the MNPD has also stepped up patrols around the mall. News 2 found an MNPD squad car parked by the entrance of the Nordstrom store near the parking garage.
Kendall said officers are not only patrolling around the mall, but they are going inside and checking on patrons, employees, and other security officers.
“It’s part of our community engagement that chief Drake initiated,” Kendall said, adding that shoppers can expect more off duty Metro police officers working at various stores in the near future.
Multiple sources confirmed to News 2 that currently, many of the stores employ security guards who may not be armed, or who have been instructed not to physically engage thieves that enter a store.
Kendall said off duty Metro police officers are armed, specially trained, and have immediate access to county-wide resources to catch thieves red-handed.
“So if there’s additional officers needed or an incident occurs, we have more availability to address the incident quickly,” Kendall said.
When asked how the multiple investigations are going, Kendall said detectives are working very active leads.