NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s happened again. Another brazen crime at the Mall at Green Hills.
This is at least the third time in as many weeks that a gang of organized retail thieves have stormed into stores at the upscale shopping center.
Multiple sources confirm to News 2 that at least five masked bandits rushed into Nordstrom on Thursday, Oct. 5, just before 8 p.m. The thieves grab approximately $60,000 in purses.
Before making their get-a-way, sources said the suspects sprayed a security guard with bear spray. Those noxious fumes affected multiple people, prompting EMS units to come to the mall.
Glen Alred, president of Alert Mid South, a group that shares retail theft with multiple law enforcement agencies, said bear spray is seen in a growing number of thefts.
“It’s effective. It will stop everyone in the room in their tracks when you spray them. You can get it in large canisters and it is very accessible. To me, it is very violent,” said Alred. “Anytime you use bear spray or pepper spray, or have to shove or hurt someone, you are committing a robbery. It is a robbery, not a simple theft, you are using a scare tactic or injure someone to take product, that is a robbery.”
Alred has been following these thefts which seem to be more prevalent and more aggressive: “Someone has to get this under control before it continues and continues and someone gets critically injured because the bad guy does not care about safety whatsoever.”
Despite an ambulance being dispatched to the mall, nobody was seriously injured or transported.
News 2 reached out to the Mall at Green Hills for comment. General Manager Norah Buikstra wrote, in part:
The safety and security of our customers and employees is our top priority. Organized retail crime is a challenge all over the country right now and we know that our police, in partnership with malls and other retailers, are working diligently to bring this to an end in Nashville.
The Nordstrom crime is the second brazen snatch-and-grab at the mall in the last week.
On Sept. 29, at least three bandits struck at the Gucci store, stealing belts and duffel bags—while leaving the suspects used pepper spray or bear spray and sprayed the showroom with choking gas.
Two weeks earlier, on Sept. 14, another gang of five targeted the Louis Vuitton store, stealing $40,000 in merchandise.
During the theft, a security guard tackled 43-year-old ex-con Michael Parrish. The guard was struck in the head by other suspects leaving the mall, but the guard held Parrish until Metro police arrived.
Police told News 2 Parrish has since made bond on these charges and is out of jail.
Nobody else has yet been charged in connection with any of the three upscale thefts.
Alred said incidents are escalating because there is so much profit to be made: “The chances of them being caught or captured is really slim and the reward they have is pure profit. Where else can you go and get 50 cents on the dollar? I mean $10k, they make $5k in 15 minutes.”