Town Center Mall Beefs Up Security

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A security guard on Thursday carefully checked the network of nearly 1,000 surveillance cameras constantly shooting in the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton.

After two high-profile killings in 2007, the Town Center Mall is unveiling its new closed-circuit television command center and police substation.

The mall has added close to 100 surveillance cameras for a total of almost 1,000 cameras over mall entrances, hallways, parking lots and other common areas.

The cameras are operated from a closed-circuit television command center located in the new wing of The Terrace, directly above Chico's and between Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's.

The security guard watches over the mall from the closed-circuit monitoring station, where the cameras are capable of zooming in on people a long distance away.

Next door, on the second floor of the new Terrace wing of the mall, a Boca Raton police officer watches the videos from cameras at the mall, from the new substation.

The new 1,700-square-foot substation will be the operational base for the Boca Raton police officers currently assigned to patrol Town Center at Boca Raton and will include work space for four Crime Prevention Unit members. Additionally, the substation will be staffed by a Community Service Officer and civilian volunteers who will assist shoppers with police reports and fingerprinting.

City officials, the police chief and mall managers celebrated the opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday.

?Our intelligence gathering has improved greatly with the new technology," said Chief Dan Alexander.

In December 2007, 47-year-old Nancy Bochicchio and her young daughter were found dead in their SUV after they had been robbed and tied up. Surveillance recordings showed them entering and leaving the Town Center Mall on the same day.

In March 2007, a woman last seen at Town Center disappeared and was found dead. Her credit cards later were used in New England.

Then in August 2007, a woman and her son were abducted from the Town Center Mall and forced to drive to an ATM. Police believe that crime was connected to the killings of Bochicchio and her daughter.

?The task force is still feverishly working on that case," Alexander said.

But it has been hard to calm scared consumers. Mall managers hope the investment in about 100 extra cameras and the donation of space to the police department will help.

?I am a mother of two small children. I used to be here two or three times a month. Once that last crime happened, it hasn?t happened," said Susan Howard, a shopper who came to look around the mall without her children.

?I think it would be more comforting, because Town Center has never had a reputation as a crime-ridden place, and when those things happened, the comfort level was much less," said Katherine Walsh, another shopper.

Mall security will monitor the new closed-circuit television cameras 24 hours a day.

The police substation will operate with the six to 10 officers who were previously assigned to the mall area.

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