Madison Police Investigate String Of Robberies Outside Mall

Victims Were All Apple Store Customers

Published On: Feb 09 2012 01:34:53 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 09 2012 09:23:55 AM CST

Madison police said a string of robberies at West Towne Mall is exposing the bigger problem of a lack of surveillance cameras.

For the third time in 10 days, an Apple computer product was stolen from a customer walking out of West Towne Mall, police said.

Investigators said thieves stole an iPad from an 83-year-old woman outside the mall food court at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

According to police, the victim had walked out into the parking lot with her new iPad and unlocked her car when a man opened her passenger side door and wrestled her iPad out of her hands.

Shopper Regan Peters said that when she visits the Apple store at West Towne Mall, she is careful not to be seen carrying white Apple store bags.

"I had to go (to the Apple store) today," said Peters. "So I put my Apple products in this bag because I didn't want to carry an Apple bag. It's kind of a red flag. People know I'm going to the Apple store, coming out of the Apple store."

Peters said she's not surprised hearing about three strong-armed robberies in the last 10 days at West Towne Mall, with every victim an Apple customer.

"When you go in and out with packages, you just feel like they're looking," Peters said.

On Feb. 4, a 59-year-old victim was robbed of his iPad in the mall's parking lot. A new $1,500 MacBook was stolen from a 57-year-old man on Jan. 30.

"The thing that's extremely alarming to us is that we've definitely established a trend," said Howard Payne, a Madison police officer.

Police said when they asked for video footage from the mall to investigate these robberies, they were told that there was no surveillance footage.

"In these particular cases, with very little suspect information being able to be given to us by the victims, that camera footage would've been extremely helpful," said Payne. "A lot of times, we can see license plate numbers, descriptions on individuals."

Police are advising customers to be observant when they are walking through the parking lot.