Centros comerciales son atractivos para los criminales

Malls seem like tightly-controlled and safe spaces for shopping, entertainment and dining. Yet they actually present great problems for those who are in charge of the safety and security of the retailers and customers.
Shopping malls have lots of features that make them attractive to criminals. There are plenty of nice things in the stores, and people walking around with money. There are usually places for groups of teenagers to hang out. There are also parking lots full of cars. Security and safety in malls depends on proper management of the crowd, its movement around the mall, its transportation to and away from the mall, and the way it spends its time in the mall.
It would be fairly easy to keep malls safe if there was a way to tell who is coming to the mall to make trouble, and to keep those people out. However, this is quite difficult. So security in malls depends on successful separation between shoppers or potential shoppers, and non-shoppers who are around for crime, shoplifting, pickpocket, or just hanging around. Certain design qualities of malls can encourage or discourage the non-shoppers, such as lighting, ceiling height, color scheme, presence of public transportation, parking facilities and many others.
Many malls have multiple stories. In order to create a feeling of open space most of these malls have some sort of gallery or mezzanine level. Galleries increase natural surveillance, as people on higher floors can observe what is happening on lower floors. But many mall managers consider galleries to be dangerous because kids and adults tend to throw objects on people on lower levels, spill water, yell across the mall, and so on. Some designers have dealt with this problem by designing the railings around galleries so that they are uncomfortable or even painful to lean on.
Food courts are difficult to monitor, because this is a spot where customers legitimately spend long periods of time, and also where youth and offenders gather and loiter.
Detecting people who are loitering is difficult in food courts with one large seating area. Not only are there a large number of seats, restaurant employees don’t really have an interest in policing the area. Click here for a case study about employees preventing crime in the workplace.
It’s better to have separate seating areas for each restaurant, but often this isn’t possible. Here are some other ideas for making your food court less of an appealing hang-out.
restrict seating to 30 minutes
require that all people make a minimum food purchase
use chairs without back support
use chairs and tables that are attached to the floor so folks can’t move them to accommodate large groups
use uncomfortable seating that encourages people to move along
keep the area clean — this lets people know the space is being monitored
Decorative water fountains are usually located at central points in malls. But this location is desirable not only to legitimate shoppers, but groups of unruly teenagers and loiterers as well. Sometimes, these areas become crowded and slow down the pedestrian flow. If these areas get too rowdy, some shoppers may avoid passing by. This could result in less business for nearby stores. Many crowding problems can be prevented by restricting seating close to the fountain.
Some fountains have plants and decorations around, which could end up inside the fountain. Some people throw garbage into fountains. Totally enclosing the fountain prevents this, but of course, an enclosure could be quite ugly, and defeats the purpose of having a decorative fountain in the first place. An alternative is to make it harder for people to get close to the fountain, perhaps with large, heavy plants or railings that block the way.
Most crime in shopping malls happens in the parking lots, simply because there are many appealing targets and few people around to keep an eye on things.
Parking lots that are open air tend to be safer than underground or covered ones. Open air parking lots provide for more natural surveillance, as other people entering and exiting the mall are able to observe the activity in the parking lot, while this is not the case with multistory closed parking.
On other hand, covered parking lots tend to have much better access control, because they usually have one entry and exit which can easily monitored. Lighting is a frequent problem in closed parking lots. Low ceilings and bad lighting provide good hiding spots for criminals, where they are unlikely to be detected while breaking into cars or waiting in lurk for shoppers.
To reduce crime in parking lots, many shopping malls use security people patrolling in cars or golf cart-like vehicles. To protect shoppers and workers, security escorts to vehicles are often provided.
Avoid non-shopper oriented content, such as arcade games and lottery ticket booths. Such businesses encourage loitering and increase disorder in the mall, thus opening the path for crime.
Family-oriented stores should be more numerous than teenage- and youth-oriented stores (such as music stores, trendy clothing shops, cinemas, and so on). Malls that are family and child friendly are more likely to attract a quiet crowd, such as families, or at least tend to balance out the presence of teenagers.
Put the stores that appeal to youth close to entrances and food courts. This can help concentrate teenagers to one part of the mall, while stores appealing to older shoppers can be located in the other side of the mall.
Narrow and dead end corridors should be avoided. Such corridors are perfect spots for robberies and they get little surveillance.
All stores should be visible from a central pedestrian area, and all store entrances should be from the same pedestrian area. Stores that have entrances from side corridors are more likely to be robbed or broken into because people in the central area are unlikely to see what is going on. Similarly, with stores looking at one central pedestrian area, there is closer monitoring of people moving around, in and out of the store.
Minimize the number of entrances. Lower the number of entrances, easier it is to control who actually comes in or leaves the mall.
Parking lots should be well lighted and well marked, in order to reduce fear in customers, and to reduce the opportunity for the offenders.

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