Oklahoma City's Most Dangerous Shopping Malls
OKLAHOMA CITY - Business at metro malls and shopping centers is picking up as the holidays approach, but police said so does criminal activity.
"My gut told me something's wrong," said Brett Clark, a victim of an armed robbery.
While Black Friday shopping last year, Clark never thought it would happen.
"It seemed like it just became dead silent, there was nobody else around, nothing else going on at that moment," he remembered.
Until two men, one with a gun, robbed his family in the parking lot of Penn Square Mall, taking off with their car and gifts they had just purchased.
"What we should have done is basically pulled our son out, pulled everything back out and went back into the store and got escorted out," he said.
The family wasn't harmed, but was scarred.
"It kind of put a dark cloud on the day after Thanksgiving," he said.
It's one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
"It becomes probably more of a target-rich environment for a criminal," said Msgt. Gary Knight, with the Oklahoma City Police Department.
Knight said while you're out shopping for gifts, criminals are out shopping for their next victim.
"They look for attractive targets and an attractive target is something that's easy for them to steal," Knight said.
Typically, criminals find their targets in an area where every shopper eventually ends up.
"No matter what you're doing in a mall or a store, at some point, you're going to be walking through the parking lot," said Knight.
It is in these parking lots where we found most crimes do happen, but which areas are the most dangerous?
News 9 pulled a year's worth of police reports from shopping areas in north, south, west and central Oklahoma City.
Based on those reports, the most dangerous shopping area is in central Oklahoma City, with 62 percent of the crime occurring at Penn Square Mall. The metro's north and south sides showed an equal amount of crime at 19 percent each. Those areas include Quail Springs Mall and South Shields Plaza. The crime committed the most is assault with a deadly weapon at 29 percent, followed by armed robbery at 24 percent, assault at 33 percent and robbery by force or fear, 14 percent.
West OKC at the Outlet Shoppes of Oklahoma City appeared to be the safest shopping area with zero reported crimes in the past year.
"You can never make your chances of becoming a victim zero percent but you can certainly lower them significantly," Knight said.
Some ways to do that include shopping with friends, don't go alone, don't show large amounts of cash at the checkout, keep purchases in the trunk, have your keys in your hand before walking to your car and remember where you park.
As for the Clark family, "No, I'm not going to be out on Black Friday," Clark said.
But for those that do: "Pay attention to your instincts because they'll tell you more than what you think," he said.
Police arrested the men involved in the Clark's armed robbery with a trial date set in March of next year.