Security expert fears mall disturbances were 'tip of an iceberg' - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Security expert fears mall disturbances were 'tip of an iceberg'

Scene at mall in Beachwood on Monday (Source: WOIO) Scene at mall in Beachwood on Monday (Source: WOIO)
BEACHWOOD, OH (WOIO) -

A nationally recognized security expert said Tuesday he anticipates malls could potentially be bigger targets for havoc and/or terror in the future.

Tim Dimoff, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, said the good news about the mall incidents that happened across the country on Monday is they appear to have been coordinated and perpetrated by young people.

“The good news this was a bunch of kids, a handful of kids who thought this would be unique, different, who probably didn't even expect the momentum of the numbers of the malls participating on a national basis,” said Dimoff. “Thank God it was just kids.”

One juvenile arrested in Beachwood Place 'disturbance'

Meanwhile, Dimoff believes the bad news is the potentially loosely coordinated incidents across the country were apparently successful.

"The bigger problem here is a lot of eyes and ears, including criminal terrorists and everything, they watch how well this works out. How easy it was to coordinate. My fear is this was the tip of an iceberg,” said Dimoff.

Dimoff pointed out malls are so-called “soft targets.” He said they have the potential for problems since they can draw large numbers of people, they are easily accessible, and with the absence of things like metal detectors, people can bring many different things in to malls.

“I believe that shopping areas and malls are going to be more of our soft targets, tested targets (in 2017). I think we're going to see a lot more commotion there,” said Dimoff.

Malls around the world have been the subject of attacks and threats before. In 2015, malls in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom were the subject of threats from Somali-based terror group Al-Shabaab. That same group was responsible for the 2013 massacre of dozens of people in a mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

No one is suggesting any of the incidents that happened in multiple states on Monday were related to terrorism. Dimoff said that in general, malls are typically fairly safe.

“A lot of malls are some of the safest places you can go for the fact that they’re well-lit inside now, there is security there. There is the presence of additional police there and there’s a lot of people there, so there’s a lot of eyes and ears,” said Dimoff.

Dimoff said people should abide by the “see something say something" policy.

“If all worked towards security and, it's a simple formula, if we do that we’re gonna have to continue to have a lot of the freedoms we've always had. If we think, 'It's not my job,' we're going to have problems and continue to have problems,” said Dimoff.

Moving forward, Dimoff said it’s a good idea for regular people to have an idea where the exits are in a public place. He also said it’s important that if there is a disturbance that people don’t run towards it, but go away from it.

“Get away from the commotion that’s the hardest thing that we have to teach,” said Dimoff. “A lot of people want to get close enough to see it, far enough to be safe in their minds. Well if that's a shooter, that bullet can travel and has a greater risk of harming people the closer they are.”

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