Variety of crimes revealed at Valley movie theaters

For many Valley residents, a visit to the movie theater is relaxing and entertaining, but police records show a variety of crimes happen in and around theaters and associated shopping areas, including fights, assaults, and car burglaries.

The ABC15 Investigators reviewed records showing police "calls for service" at major movie theaters and associated shopping centers throughout the Valley.

Many stand-alone theaters had fewer than 10 fights and a low number of assaults between July 2011 and July 2012, but the ABC15 Investigators also discovered several serious crimes at theaters throughout the Valley.


"In general, I love going to theaters, and I'll still go today," said Ida Morrow, an Apache Junction resident who became the victim of an assault at a Mesa theater in July.


"It ended up being a disaster," said Morrow, explaining how another woman shoved her and threw soda and popcorn at her in front of the Harkins movie theater building on Superstition Springs Boulevard.

According to a Mesa police report, the woman was upset that Morrow had taken her American Pitbull Terrier inside the theater.

Morrow told ABC15 the dog is a service dog that helps her with a seizure disorder and other health issues.  Police reported that Morrow told them the dog was not on a leash but was "laying down, as he (was) trained to do."

"It was a crazy day…I wish I honestly didn't go to the theater that night," Morrow said.

Police cited the other woman for assault.

"Instead of flipping out…go over and ask the manager," Morrow recommended. "The manager will know what's going on. If they don't know, they will find out for you."


In another case, a 72-year-old man argued with a 20-year-old who was texting during the movie.

According to a police report, the younger man followed the older man and stood behind his vehicle, as he was backing out of the parking lot after the movie. As a result, the younger man was struck but not seriously hurt.

Neither person was charged with assault.


According to Mesa police records, the Superstition Springs Boulevard Harkins location had 53 police calls for service between July 2011 and July 2012. 

The most frequent calls were for "Subjects Disturbing" and "Civil Matter." Police reported only two calls for "Assault" during that time span.

The AMC on Stapley Drive had 51 calls for service during that same time span.

The most frequent police calls were for "Business Check" and "Check Welfare."

Police reported no "Assault" calls during that time span.


Lisa Frazier told ABC15 getting a manager involved is important.

Frazier and her husband were involved in an altercation with two other women during a February movie at the Gilbert Harkins on Williams Field Road.

Frazier said the two women were talking throughout the movie.

"It was very annoying," Frazier said, explaining how the women became offended when her husband questioned the talking.

"She threatened that I better keep my mouth shut," Frazier said. 

"My cousin and I were enjoying a girls night out watching the movie laughing and having fun," said Phoesha Guy, one of the women involved in the altercation with Frazier and her husband. 

"The Frazier's (sic) were clearly irritated that we were even sitting in their area," she said.

Guy said the Fraziers made several racist remarks, but Frazier denied the accusation.

Frazier said one of the women made a threatening move toward her inside the theater, and made contact with her leg.  When she ran to tell her husband who had left the theater to get a manager, "he panicked," she said.

The verbal fight became even more physical when Frazier's husband punched Guy in the face.

"He's always concerned, and he was really upset that night," Frazier said.

Guy said she suffered a concussion and a torn retina.  She told ABC15 she had to have surgery as a result of the attack. 

"It was simply the most horrible experience I've ever had in my life," she said.


Gilbert police reported 81 calls for service at the same theater between July 2011 and July 2012. Most were for non-violent reasons.


In Peoria, however, movie-goer Lauren Maggi ended up in a very scary situation when she and her boyfriend left a midnight movie at the Harkins near 83rd Avenue and Mariners Way.

"I looked over at my boyfriend and he had the gun to him, and then when I started panicking, (the gunman) put the gun to me. That was the scariest thing," she said.

Maggi said a young man in a hoodie approached their vehicle, asking for change. She said they had parked their car in an obvious spot, but the man still pulled a gun.

"I was in shock," she said. "I didn't know what to do."

Maggi and her boyfriend survived without injury, and police eventually recovered their vehicle.

Peoria police reported 167 calls for service at that movie theater and associated parking lots during between July 2011 and July 2012.

They reported 63 calls at the Harkins and associated parking lots near 99th and Northern avenues.


The ABC15 Investigators found calls at several theaters for problems in parking lots, including car burglaries, theft and animals left in vehicles.


In Phoenix, the theater parking lot associated with the most stolen vehicles between July 2011 and July 2012 was the Harkins lot near 15th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, where nine cars were reported stolen.

Phoenix police records show 38 calls for service required an officer's involvement near the AMC on Ray and 48th in Ahwatukee, and 33 calls required a similar level of attention near the AMC near 31st Avenue and Agua Fria Freeway.

An officer's involvement was necessary, according to police, in 30 different incidents near the Harkins near 34th Street and Bell Road.

Records show the most calls, nearly 600, occurred at the Desert Ridge Marketplace, near Tatum Boulevard and the 101 Freeway.  However, the records supplied by Phoenix police for that address include any reports associated with the theater as well as dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops.

Click here for a downloadable .PDF file from Phoenix Police with more theater crime details.

Click the red dots below for statistics at that theater location.

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