Market Place Shopping Center a safe place to shop — for the most part

Market Place Shopping Center a safe place to shop — for the most part

CHAMPAIGN — Since 2011, Champaign police have fielded about 470 calls a year about something happening at Market Place Mall — from reports of shoplifting to fights in the food court.

But the call that was made shortly after 9 p.m. on Memorial Day, just after stores closed their doors for the night, was especially troubling.

An argument that broke out in the vicinity of the Finish Line, an athletic footwear and apparel store, had led to at least one gun shot being fired.

Details were scarce and, 20 days later, it's still not known who fired the gun, or if anyone was hit — witnesses reported seeing one person bleeding from the head but authorities couldn't confirm it was caused by a bullet.

Incidents as serious as that one are rare — the last report of a shooting at the mall came in 2011, when a Milwaukee man who was later sentenced to 55 years in prison for firing shots at a man outside LensCrafters over a dispute at a Champaign bar earlier in the day.

But calls from Market Place to Champaign police about other matters happen frequently. In this year alone, there were 143 before the calendar turned to June.

And between 2011 and the end of last month, Champaign police responded to 3,030 calls to the mall.

A News-Gazette analysis of data provided by police revealed that one of those calls was for assault, two were for sexual assaults, 28 were for harassment, 38 were for battery and 42 were for fights.

In a statement from Market Place's owner, Chicago-based GGP, General Manager Dennis Robertson defended the mall's safety.

"Market Place has over 100 tenants, hosts millions of visitors per year and operates much like a mini-city," Robertson said. "Our security diligently patrols the shopping center 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides assistance to our tenants and shoppers."

For security, the mall contracts with Aurora-based Andy Frain Services, which didn't respond to requests for comment for this story.

But if an incident rises to the level that additional help is needed, Andy Frain will work with the Champaign police, Robertson said.

"We work cooperatively with the Champaign Police Department when an incident arises that requires additional authority in ensuring the safety of our shopping center," he said.

Calls to CPD don't always come from mall security. Shoppers may also contact local police directly, CPD spokeswoman LaEisha Meaderds said in an email.

"Any citizen can call CPD to address a concern at the mall and mall security can handle/escalate, according to the incident," Meaderds said.

Many of the police calls to the mall since 2011 were relatively minor and didn't affect shopper safety, said Lindsay Kahn, public relations manager for GGP.

"A lot of these things have nothing to do with the actual safety of the mall," Kahn said.

Of the 3,030 calls, about a third were related to theft:

— Seven calls concerned robberies.

— 11 were for burglaries.

— 326 were designated as thefts.

— 730 were over instances of shoplifting.

Following the alleged shooting on Memorial Day, officials declined to provide further information about security procedures at Market Place, citing strategic reasons.

"While the safety and well-being of our shoppers and retailers is our number-one priority every day, we never publicly discuss the details of our security program because to do so would compromise its effectiveness," Robertson said.

Mall calls

➜ Champaign Police give each call a priority of 1 through 5, with 1 being of the utmost importance. Of the 3,030 calls since 2011, just over half were priority 3. About 21 percent were priority 2, and about 23 percent were priority 1.

➜ Since 2011, 129 people have been given notices to appear in court, and 101 people have been arrested at the mall. Ninety-one cases were referred to another agency, usually mall security.

➜ Many of the calls aren’t necessarily related to crime. There were 55 calls for welfare checks, 40 for parking problems and 22 for found property.

➜ Unsurprisingly, calls from Market Place to police tend to happen when the mall is at its busiest. Calls peaked between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in December.

 

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cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on June 18, 2017 at 11:06 am

It  would be helpful to see video tape of the shooting............ but MPM is too cheap to put it in.... each store perhaps has video taping, but the common area of the mall does not.

 

Much easier to shop at home via the interweb and get the stuff delivered to my home rather than fight the hordes of individuals who fail to understand common courtesey.................

 

but the "no guns signs at the mall" seem not to be working.........................................wonder why

JamBam wrote on June 18, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Market Place Mall is a run down ghetto shell of it's former self. I blame all the low income section 8 apartments that were built very near there.   Most of the good stores have closed up shop anyway. It'll end up similar to Lincoln Square in Urbana.  Way easier and safer to shop online and have things delivered to your door.