13 Things Mall Cops Won’t Tell You

The job of a mall cop is a lot more complex than you may have thought. Here's what they wish you knew.

Previous
1/13 View as List
Next

Don't call us a mall cop

mall-copStills/REX/Shutterstock
No offense to Paul Blart, but we 
actually hate the term mall cop. 
We prefer security officer, and frankly, we’re tired of movies portraying us as clueless bums who always doze off 
on the job. Remember, we’re often the first responders to shootings, kidnappings, fires, and other emergencies. (This is what your mall salesperson isn't telling you.)

This is a dangerous job

mall-copStills/REX/Shutterstock

Every year, 50 to 100 American security officers are killed on duty. In 2015, nearly two thirds of those deaths were the result of assaults or other violent acts. (Here's an easy way you can burn calories in the mall.)

We aren't as powerful as police officers

mall-copMoviestore/REX/Shutterstock

Still, we have far less power than 
police officers. Most of us can’t arrest you, for example. We can detain you, but only if we witness you committing a misdemeanor or have hard proof you committed a felony. This is what police officers want you to know.

Sometimes we let shoplifters walk

mall-copStills/REX/Shutterstock
Many mall owners won’t 
let us stop or search a customer unless we witness the crime. That’s partly because of the need for probable cause, but it’s also because they don’t want us to create a scene. These are the dumbest criminals of all time.

Ask us questions

mall-copStills/REX/Shutterstock

Extreme cases aside, on most days, we’re more concierges than cops. Customer service is a big part 
of the job, so go ahead and ask us where the food court is.

Got car trouble?

mall-copStills/REX/Shutterstock

We can probably help you jump a dead battery 
or fix a flat. We can also drive you around or check surveillance video of the parking lot if you can’t find your car. One time, my supervisor even drove a stranded customer home. No tip necessary—or even 
allowed, most of the time.

Don't leave things on your car seat

mall-copColumbia/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
When we investigate a parking 
lot break-in, nine times out of 
ten the customer left something out on the seat, be it a purse, a tablet, 
or high-end shopping bags. If you don’t want your car broken into, don’t leave valuables out in plain view; thieves troll parking lots looking inside cars for goodies to grab.

Keep track of your kid

mall-copMoviestore/REX/Shutterstock

We spend a lot of time dealing with lost kids. Don’t send children under eight to get things from another part of the store or mall. They get distracted (and lost) easily.

Teach your kids to find us

mall-copStills/REX/Shutterstock

Pro tip: Assure your kids that you’d never go to your car without them. You don’t want them to leave the mall and search for you in the parking lot. Teach your kids to ask an employee wearing a name tag if they need help finding you.

You wouldn’t believe what goes on in dressing rooms

mall-copStills/REX/Shutterstock
We deal with people going to the bathroom or having sex. One time a guy walked in dressed in men’s clothing and left wearing a wig and a dress; under the dress, he had on several layers of stolen clothes.

Previous
1/13 View as List
Next

Become more interesting every week!

The Reader's Digest "Read Up" Newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.