Safety TOP concern for Valley Metrocenter mall

PHOENIX - Shoppers hitting Valley malls probably don't realize just how many eyes are watching them.

Metrocenter mall in north Phoenix gave ABC15 an inside look at how they're working to keep their shoppers safe.

During the holiday season, Metrocenter doubles their staff with off-duty police officers, security guards and undercover police officers.

"Anytime we have stores opening at midnight, and you have a lot of people come into one place, the opportunity for crime increases," said Brent Meszaros, General Manager of Metrocenter mall.

Meszaros gave us a personal tour and up-close look at the 86 security cameras watching shoppers inside and outside the mall.

Their cameras have the ability to zoom in so close, they can read license plates, see shoppers in their cars and even show what shoppers are eating in the food court.

"When the operators see something suspicious, we can dispatch an off-duty officer to go investigate and make sure everybody is ok," said Meszaros.

Meszaros shared a 2010 video of a car part thief pulling up to a shopper's car, then quickly jumping out and going underneath the car to steal the catalytic converter.

He's unaware of the security cameras, but camera operators are aware of him and quickly call police.

By the time the thief rolls out from under the car, two Phoenix police officers were there to handcuff him.

"The cameras have the ability to reach even the outer areas of the parking lot," boasts Meszaros.

And shoppers don't mind the extra eyes.

"I have nothing to hide, everything to gain if something does happen," said Gwen Williams, a Metrocenter shopper.

While the cameras are hidden, the monitors the security guards watch are not.

Meszaros said they want shoppers to know the cameras are there.

"We don't just want to catch people, we want to prevent them from wrong doing, so they'll take it somewhere else. It's a deterrent," said Meszaros.

But it's just not suspicious activity guards are watching.

Cameras in the food court caught two unaware teenagers getting a little too frisky for public display, a security guard was quickly called in to put out the fire.

" Metrocenter is a place for families, we want our shoppers to feel comfortable and safe when they come here," said Meszaros.

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