A police operation targeting vehicle burglaries in the Pacific East Mall parking lot led to two arrests Sunday, police said.
Richmond police officers have been patrolling the parking lot during the last two months in reaction to a spate of car burglaries, according to police Sgt. Nicole Abetkov. The issue of mall burglaries has been ongoing since before Oct. 30, when a man suspected of burglarizing a vehicle was shot and injured by a police detective while fleeing the lot in a vehicle, Abetkov said.
At 6 p.m. Sunday, a plainclothes mall security guard reported the possible presence of more burglary suspects to a uniformed police officer who had been assigned to patrol the lot.
The guard said three suspects, including a juvenile, were casing vehicles. When the officer approached, the suspects walked away and entered the mall. The juvenile and one of the adult suspects were eventually located, and their vehicle, a black Volkswagen Passat, allegedly contained stolen items, Abetkov said.
The adult suspect, a man whose identity was not immediately available, was arrested on a warrant while the juvenile was arrested for providing false information about his identification, Abetkov said.
Police plan to continue monitoring the parking lot closely through the holidays, although they are not releasing what days and times the area will be patrolled.
Abetkov did say, however, that Sunday night’s operation occurred during the dinner hours, when people leave their cars unattended for an extended period of time.
She warned drivers against leaving anything of value in their vehicles, particularly in plain view. If you must stash items in the trunk, make certain to do so before you arrive at the parking lot, where thieves may be watching and waiting. Burglars will especially look to capitalize on shoppers leaving holiday gifts in their vehicles while they fetch a bite, Abetkov said.
“We always try to remind people: lock your vehicle, park in well-lit areas, and if you see anyone suspicious, please call the police,” Abetkov said.