The Dangers of the Mall and How to Keep Your Kids Safe This Holiday Season
Inside Edition found stories of a series of men who were busted for exposing themselves at shopping centers across the country.
One mother and daughter were in their local mall when a man walked up behind them with his pants down. Security guard Eddie Puga jumped into action, detaining the suspect until police got there and took him into custody for indecent exposure.
“Parents should just be careful. Keep their kids close to them,” Puga told Inside Edition.
It's not the only such tale.
An angry mom chased down a man whom she allegedly caught underneath her daughter's stall while she was changing, recording herself as she confronted him.
“I'm, gonna make sure you go viral,” the mother says in the video. “You're a sick pervert.”
He now faces voyeurism charges. He has not entered a plea.
In other cases, young children have been the victims of kidnapping at the mall.
There was a dramatic moment recently where shoppers were captured on video tackling a suspected kidnapper at a food court in Georgia. He is awaiting trial.
Another woman was filmed with a 7-week-old she allegedly kidnapped at a food court at the King of Prussia Mall outside Philadelphia. That boy is back with his family.
There are still other cases that end in tragedy. Cherish Perrywinkle, 8, was shopping with her mother at a Jacksonville, Florida, Walmart when a stranger walked her out the front door.
Her frantic mom called 911. “She's been taken by a stranger, I can't find her!” Ranye Perrywinkle tells the operator. “I hope to God he doesn’t kill her. I hope to get he doesn't rape her.”
But her worst fears came true. Donald Smith was found guilty of sexually assaulting and strangling the child.
So what can you do to keep your children safe while shopping this holiday season?
Kathleen Baty, the founder and CEO of Safety Chick Enterprises, told Inside Edition it's important to be hypervigilant while shopping.
“Always make sure your child is right in front of you in eyesight,” she said. “You really want to make sure, first of all, that your child is always beside you.”
Baty advised parents to pay attention.
“The biggest thing is take a breath and stay focused because the most dangerous settings are getting from point A to point N when you're not paying attention. That's what predators look for,” she said. “As you come into the mall, take note of where the security officers are.”
And it may seem obvious, she said, but never leave your child alone or let them go play while you're browsing.
“The last thing you want is your child to be wandering around aimlessly and you be trying to find them,” she added.
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