KENDALL, Fla. - Firecrackers were set off inside Dadeland Mall Sunday in order to distract employees while a man stole a watch from a jewelry store, authorities said.
The incident set off a panic inside the popular Kendall-area mall, sending shoppers looking for safety.
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One store brought over 100 shoppers into its locked back room during the scare.
The male thief was inside Mayors Jewelry and was wearing the watch when someone else lit the firecrackers. The thief fled the store with the watch in the ensuing commotion.
A week from Sunday, the exact same thing happened at the Florida Mall in Orlando.
Security video from inside one of the stores there shows shoppers searching for safety when fireworks went off inside.
"I almost died. This is a really bad, bad, bad experience," one woman said.
Authorities said 11 people got hurt while running away, five of whom had to be taken to a hospital.
Another similar incident happened on New Year's Eve last year at Sawgrass Mills Mall.
Police said a thief set off fireworks as a distraction, while another man stole a Rolex watch worth more than $11,000.
Shoppers at the time thought they heard gunshots, and ran out in a panic.
No one in any of the three mall distraction thefts have been arrested.
Miami-Dade police say the person involved in the latest watch theft was wearing a white hat, a white long-sleeve shirt and black pants
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
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