ATLANTA - Shoppers aren't the only ones spending big cash this holiday season. FOX 5 News has learned two local malls have shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to keep shoppers safe. They have invested all that money in a special security feature designed to identify bad guys before they even have a chance to do bad things.
Cold cash can’t always address all security problems, but with this one, there is a fix. Just as you have parents and grandparents inside the malls right now trying to get the perfect picture with Santa, the police department wants perfect images as good as they can get, of the robbers and car thieves.
Mayor Kasim Reed said there’s a shopping list most people don’t think about.
"People may be the victim of theft at malls," said the mayor.
"While you're shopping for your Christmas presents, they're shopping for theirs at well, but they don't want to pay for them," said Major Van Hobbs, Buckhead Commander of the Atlanta Police Department.
Take a look at older technology in a mall parking lot. A doctor from Macon runs away after having a gun held to his head. He quickly gave up his keys to his Mercedes.
“If you’re at Lenox and the camera doesn’t give our police officers a clear image, it’s unhelpful,” said Mayor Reed.
At the urging of Atlanta's mayor and police command, Simon Properties came to the Downtown Police Video Integration Center for a meeting. They decided to pony up nearly $100,000 for technology improvements at Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square.
FOX 5 News was granted rare access to the security room at Lenox where mall officials showed the newer, higher resolution cameras for which the corporate cash is paying. The goal is to keep shoppers safe and it targets criminals before they flee on nearby Georgia 400.
“We have made some arrests based on the surveillance and other technology that is being used by Lenox [Square] Mall. We have gotten several stolen vehicles. We’ve gotten individuals going back to stolen vehicles that we have been able to track,” said Major Hobbs.
Malls are going to be busy with just two weeks left in the holiday shopping season. Major Hobbs has some advice for shoppers.
“Don’t go in the shop. Come out to your car, put stuff in the car and then leave. People are watching you,” said Major Hobbs.
Shoppers may want to stow their bags and then move their car before going back into the mall to do more shopping.