I was very sad to hear about the young lawyer, Dustin Friedland, killed while shopping with his wife at a New Jersey mall on Sunday night. For those of you that didn’t hear about this story, the man was killed in a mall parking lot during a carjacking. I read that the criminals apparently circled the garage two times before picking a target. I can only imagine the profound loss felt by his widow because of this senseless crime.
Malls and other retail stores should do more to prevent or curtail this from happening in the future. Just last month an armed man walked through a different New Jersey mall firing off shots before taking his own life. Thankfully, he didn’t hurt anyone but himself.
The holiday season is a busy time of year, with lots of people going out and spending money. Customer safety needs to be a priority, both inside and outside of a mall. People need to feel safe when shopping. It seems like every year something happens during the holidays that makes me worry about the safety of my children and myself. Whether it’s a person getting trampled to death on Black Friday, fights over products, or shootings, I’m starting to get worried. This year in particular I’ve felt like I’ve been bombarded by top 5, 10 or 15 tips lists for “staying safe while holiday shopping.” I never remember seeing so many warnings about shopping.
Here on Long Island, at the Roosevelt Mall a person was held at gun point over a new Xbox One game console in late November. The victim was, like Friedland, by his vehicle. All the warnings and “tips” in the world cannot take away the fact that a customer still needs to leave the store and get in their car. In large parking lots, this is where people are vulnerable. Malls need to step it up a notch and start protecting customers. If customers don’t feel safe, and tragic incidents like these become more common, I can see a lot more people skipping the stores and buying online.
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Stephanie Ovadia is a practicing attorney, radio personality and mother of eight children. Stephanie's areas of practice include entertainment law and personal injury. She received her B.A. in political science from SUNY Binghamton and her J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.