ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Break-ins, robberies and parking lot road rage are just some of the types of calls police respond to at Albuquerque’s four big shopping malls. On Special Assignment, KRQE News 13 pored through years worth of data to see just what goes on at some of the most popular shopping malls in the metro.
Crime is everywhere in Albuquerque, but there’s one place where people gather and drop their kids off and they expect them to be safe.
“I’ve never felt unsafe to be honest with you. I never go alone either so that’s another thing,” said Saba Saeidi, who lives in Albuquerque.
People who spoke with KRQE News 13 admit when they’re browsing at local shopping malls, they’re also on alert. “As far as people my age it seems like people are pretty wary everywhere,” said Jacob Subratie, a UNM student.
“Usually I’ll have my purse like across me instead of just on my shoulder, make sure I’m you know, looking around,” Ruby Sisneros said.
Albuquerque has had its share of crimes in crowded malls. Cell phone video captured a woman waving a gun around inside Cottonwood Mall last year. Her partner in crime had just tried to steal a gold chain. No one was hurt.
“Our response was massive,” Albuquerque Police Officer Simon Drobik said in 2017. “We absolutely don’t treat these things lightly, we treat them like an active shooter.”
KRQE News 13 poured through data from the last three years, showing just how often Albuquerque Police are called to local malls, and what kinds of calls officers are responding to.
KRQE News 13 looked at stats from Cottonwood, Coronado, Uptown and Winrock. Out of those four malls in Albuquerque, police respond to the Coronado Center the most by far, averaging about six calls per day.
“It doesn’t surprise me, it’s like the center, the nearest convenient one,” said Caleb Booqua, who also lives in Albuquerque.
Records show just last year, APD logged more than 2,000 calls to the Coronado Center. That’s more than twice as many as second-place Cottonwood, the scene of 831 calls for service in 2017. Winrock had 746, while the more upscale Uptown had just 218 calls for the year.
“Because the malls are so vast and big, you have an influx of people coming to these locations, you’re gonna have crime that comes along with it,” said officer Drobik.
Drobik said it helps police when malls utilize security guards, which Coronado does. “They provide a really good service, they’re kind of our eyes and ears,” he added.
Plus, officer Drobik said APD has a police officer stationed at Coronado.
So what’s the most common problem? Shoplifting of course.
In 2015, APD responded to 809 shoplifting calls at the Coronado Center alone. Then there are car thefts, burglaries, and more than 100 traffic accidents in a given year at the mall.
There’s about a fight a month, while shootings and stabbings are rare.
“We know people are gonna come here and make bad choices,” said officer Drobik.
That’s especially the case during the busy holiday season. Christmas comes every year, and so do the calls into APD.
Police responded to nearly 300 calls to the Coronado Center last December, but they also conducted more than 100 preventive operations, or tact plans there.
“Tactical operations, so we’ll have maybe up to 30 people to include auto theft, undercover guys, guys in uniform, guys on bikes working these malls because we know that people want to come here and be safe when they shop,” explained Officer Drobik.
While Coronado has the most crime calls, Winrock is seeing the biggest increase in problems, but there’s a simple explanation for that.
“Now there’s more business, there’s going to be more people showing up, more target rich environments for crooks and they’re going to show up and try and take advantage of that,” said Drobik.
As usual, police say there’s a simple way to counter the criminals; be aware of your surroundings and don’t leave anything tempting in your car. Police will try to take it from there.
“The goal is just to keep everybody safe, let everybody have a fun time at the mall,” Officer Drobik added.
Both Coronado and Cottonwood mall reps told KRQE News 13 while they can’t comment on security measures, safety is their number one priority. Representatives from Winrock and Uptown did not return phone calls for comment.