Las Americas Premium Outlets
Robberies are up 38 percent at the outlet malls in San Ysidro, police say, and the new pedestrian crossing to Tijuana seems to be playing an unintended role.
Officer Carlos Lacarra, a community relations officer for SDPD’s Southern Division, confirmed that they are seeing an increase and explained that though the crimes are counted as robberies, no one is being menaced with weapons or injured; they more resemble a grab-and-run, with someone trying to stop them, he said.
The short route from Las Americas to the Virginia Avenue pedestrian bridge
“The great majority of these are counted as robberies because a store employee caught them on the way out and they shove the employee's hand off their arms or struggle to get away with the stolen property,” he said.
From there, a lot of the thieves run to the recently opened pedestrian crossing at Virginia Avenue and head into Mexico, he said.
211 Camino de la Plaza, San Ysidro, CA
“Some of the thieves are coming from Mexico and returning there,” he said, describing the thefts as crimes of opportunity. Another officer said some appeared to be organized groups while others appeared unplanned, where the thieves just grabbed things near the store entrance on the way out. Lacarra said he wasn’t aware of any incidents where people were injured and sought emergency care.
When the information was first presented at a meeting earlier this month, deputy city attorney Mark Robertson explained the range of legal definitions from petty theft to robbery.
“If I walk in with the intent to steal that hat, and I walk out [with it], that’s a burglary,” Robertson said. “If I walk in and just take that hat, that’s a petty theft. If I walk into a store, take something, and you grab me and I push you down and I fight with you, that’s a robbery. What’s gone up is robberies.”
Robertson said he’s had six misdemeanor cases come to him since he arrived at the Southern Division and five of the defendants pleaded guilty.
“The reason I have so few cases is because they are working the border wall,” he said, noting that the statistics come from the holiday shopping season.
Las Americas Premium Outlets general manager Andrea Hartley declined to confirm that robberies had increased or to discuss whether or not changes in security were occurring. She said the mall takes every precaution to preserve the safety of employees and shoppers.
Las Americas is one of four shopping malls crowded into the area immediately west of the I-5. All four are experiencing increases in thefts, Lacarra said.