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Robbers Strike Inside Columbia Mall Over Weekend

Howard County police are looking into recent incidents at the Mall in Columbia.

Several people visiting the fell victim to two armed robberies and two more attempted robberies between 9 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday, according to a Howard County police spokesperson.

"[Investigators] will be handling all four cases and are actively looking into the possibility that the [incidents] are connected, but have made no determinations yet," said police spokesperson Bryce Buell.

The department released the following information about the incidents:

  • Shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Friday, a group of people approached a person near Champs restaurant. One suspect in the group demanded money from the individual, who refused to cooperate. The suspect pushed the person into a bush and fled.
  • At 7 p.m. on Saturday, a group of people approached a person in the mall's food court. The person followed the group toward a hallway, where a suspect displayed a knife and another implied a gun. The suspects stole cash from the victim's pockets and fled.
  • Shortly after 9 p.m. on Saturday, two suspects pushed a victim up against a wall on the second floor of the mall, showed a gun to the victim and demanded his cell phone. The suspects stole the phone and fled.
  • Shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday, a suspect approached an elderly victim and her friend as they walked toward their vehicle outside of the mall. The suspect grabbed the victim's arm and attempted to take the phone from her hand, but failed and fled on foot.
Anne March 07, 2012 at 10:35 PM
James Q. Wilson of Harvard died this past weekend & he is germane to this discussion because he wrote "Broken Windows" along w/ a fellow criminologist. He argued that the presence of broken windows along a beat was an indication of a downward spiral in a neighborhood leading to increased incidents of crime & violence. He further urged police to pay attention to these small issues because it forestalled the development of slums, gangs, serious property crimes & violence. There are certain police officers who work the Mall on the weekends, although for how much longer is debatable, who are engaged & active. One young woman is so proactive & effective that I truly wish that she could be cloned! That being said, there are others who are purely decorative in their presence. Why the difference in procedure? I confess that I am at a loss to explain. But my active officer cautions children against running, comments on less than modest dress on very young girls (Bellybuttons exposed? And in the cold? Come ON parents! Act like it & be parents!), asks why they are out so late & without any parental supervision. Readers may think that she is being intrusive & controlling but what she is really doing is preventing these children from possibly engaging in activity that will give them a record.
JH March 08, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Also, too many people flooding the Mall because other nearly communities -- like the Laurel area ----- have gone way down hill. I agree that the police need to remove the hooded thugs, deadbeats, tatooed freaks,etc. Rouse would be alarmed at the rise of the criminal class in this area.
J M March 08, 2012 at 08:40 PM
At the very moment Maryland's Attorney General is fighting to keep law-abiding citizens from being able to get firearm carry permits. I wonder if we would see these types of brazen attacks if criminals had to wonder if their victims would be armed. By the way, part of Maryland's handgun permit law was ruled unconstitutional. It had required individuals to convince the police that they had a reason to carry. As is stands now, they no longer have to do this. The still must complete state and FBI background checks, get fingerprinted, undergo a mental health check and interview, etc etc. Somehow Maryland would rather spend it's money on laws that only affect the law-abiding rather than spending the money enforcing laws that affect criminals.
Brook Hubbard March 08, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Could you provide a link to this change in Maryland's law? I am very curious, as the last I had heard, Maryland made it nearly impossible to get a conceal & carry permit. You had to provide an in-depth statement explaining ~why~ you wanted said permit, and the final decision was in the hands of a single person over whether they approved or not. If this has changed, please let me know via government links.
J M March 08, 2012 at 09:03 PM
http://ia600501.us.archive.org/1/items/gov.uscourts.mdd.180772/gov.uscourts.mdd.180772.22.0.pdf That is a link to the Judge's ruling. You can just go a google news search and get a good list of articles. If you are interested in applying for a permit, I'd recomend joining the forums at marylandshooters <- mdshooters.com There are a number of open threads detailing all aspects for the case's impacts on the current laws. As it stands, Maryland is Shall Issue, meaning that if you can pass all of the background tests, they MUST give you a license. If they don't, you can sue. They will undoubtedly try to stall as much as possible, but they have no legal standing at the moment. No stay of judgement has been granted.
Brook Hubbard March 08, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Thank you very much! I had not heard this latest information and it is good to know! Nice to see a little common sense creeping into the Maryland political arena (or at least being forced into :P).
Anne March 09, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Unfortunately the US criminal codes are based upon observed or reported behavior as opposed to an officer's suspicion or assumption of potential criminal behavior hence the police, were they to engage in removal of patrons based upon appearance would soon be facing civil rights lawsuits. Indeed, I am the woman removed from the Mall in Columbia this time last year on the spurious charge that I was "disturbing the peace". The Director of Security had announced in a meeting that if it were the last thing he did, he would "get the homeless out of the Mall." Mrs. Essing went along with this idea & had it not been for the ACLU showing both GGP & IPC the errors of their ways, I and other homeless residents of the county would not be admitted to the sacrosanct confines of the Mall. What many residents do not realize is that many new people joining the ranks of the homeless are doing so because of job loss.
Mike A. March 09, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Maryland is not moving forward with any permits until the STAY they requested today is decided by the Judge within the next few weeks. They have also filed to appeal the decision. It is still buisness as usual at MDSP for permits, just as the rule is written currently. MDSP announced today they will be holding permits (except for work related, retired law enforcement) until the decision has beent either stayed or appealed.
Mike A. March 09, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Howard County has gone DOWNHILL as far as crime is concerned. It doesn't matter where you are you are no longer SAFE anywhere in this county. Armed robberies, car jackings, random assaults... Doesn't much matter the neighborhood anymore. none are safe. Violent crimes continue to rise. All of you reading this are all smart so you know that STATISTICS are easily manipulated by changing some input data here or there so they can show decreases when need be. If you REALLY want to know what is going on in your neighborhood go get a police scanner and listen to the Howard County Police and Fire Departments. You will be suprised as to what you learn. Listen from 7-10 on a weeknight. It will make you lock your doors and contemplate your safety!
J M March 09, 2012 at 01:18 PM
They are going to have to answer for that -- until a stay is *granted* the ruling is in effect. While I agree with you that they will delay as much as possible, these delays are now civil rights violations. With any luck someone will successfully sue them. Usually a Judge will order a stay with the ruling, but in this case the judge felt that a basic civil right was being denied, thus no stay. They will first have to appeal to the ruling judge, then to the CA-4. I doubt either will grant the stay. Once again, I think you are right, but that puts MSP squarely in the wrong.
Brook Hubbard March 09, 2012 at 01:37 PM
While Howard County crime is rising, you also have to use perspective. For a PG County transplant like me, this place is still paradise. Of course, that makes it even more important for me to fight to keep it so, lest I end up living in a neighborhood not too different from where I came from.
Mike A. March 09, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Like I said, they aren't issuing any permits based on the good and substantial clause.. He has not answered the stay yet, and probably will not do so until next week. So we have a win in that it has been ruled a violation of the 2A; but they aren't issuing permits, violation or not. So there has been no change in the way they do buisness at MSP. In the lomg run I don't see MSP getting their knuckles slapped for not moving forward until either a stay is granted or the appeal is ruled on.
randyho March 09, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Interesting perspective. I moved back to PG county (Levitt area of Bowie) from Columbia a few years ago. My experience has been the reverse of yours. My neighbors are friendly, employed, and take care of their homes which are not overcrowded. People take notice of thugs and thug wanna-be's. The Bowie police are active, responsive, and IME friendly. I also have a lot more house for the $$, and I've yet to see a pretentious bumper sticker recommending I choose civility. I think the time's over for Columbia to look down its nose at any other neighborhood. Those association fees need to be reprioritized to ensure the law-abiding people of Columbia are safe. Also, +1 for the recent District Court ruling and its impact on the MSP's whimsical denial of concealed carry permits. They've been given a crystal clear signal and should be held accountable for any further delays.
Jason Booms March 09, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Another reminder of the importance of mindfulness of one's surroundings. In light of the increased development, it is imperative that local policymakers and police officials promote a strategic public safety vision for Howard County. A combination of greater density & constrained budgets are going to create new challenges and it is essential for those in responsible positions to demonstrate that they have given thought on how best to surmount these challenges.
K April 23, 2012 at 04:02 AM
There is a common description in the suspects. I wonder how many of these are here thanks to HUD vouchers? Welcome to the new suburban hood....Columbia. Beat D4 10300 LITTLE PATUXENT PKWY, 3/2 2120, ATTEMPT. Suspect: Black male, light complexion, thin build, long, curly, black hair, 5’ 9” tall, 15-to-18 years old,wearing a black Northface jacket, blue jeans and black Chicago Bulls cap. Beat D4 10300 LITTLE PATUXENT, 3/3 1900. Suspects: Black males, wearing dark clothing, and one wearing an orange sweatshirt. Beat D4 10300 LITTLE PATUXENT PKWY, 3/3 2108. Suspects: Two black males, one wearing a red and black Ohio State jacket. Beat D4 10300 LITTLE PATUXENT PKWY, 3/4 1611, ATTEMPT. Suspect: Black male, mid-teens, 5’ 2” tall, short black hair, wearing a green tee-shirt and blue jeans.
Dave A. April 23, 2012 at 10:43 AM
Those suspects were apprehended last month.
Greg G. August 14, 2012 at 11:50 AM
First off, like to thank Ken Ullman and his cronies for all the over development which is bringing this crime to Columbia. I mention this as part of his political platform was NOT to overdevelop Howard County. Also, once again we are one of 5 counties in the entire US that cannot own a non-lethal weapon like a taser. I recently moved to the fartherest out skirts of Howard County to get away from things like this and rarely go anywhere near Columbia Mall as a direct result of the riff raff that now resides there. Why dont you take some of those rip off camera fees and use it for the police force.
J Johnson August 14, 2012 at 11:33 PM
i grew up in Columbia..I've seen the change, however this is not Mayberry..crime happens, life happens..the city is growing and with that comes more issues. HC still has the same values as far as the law is concerned and crime is inevitable but no where near as bad as other cities, so on that end we are still lucky. On a side note, my daughter is in GS and they hold the sleep in at the mall because it's fun..the merchants help and what 8 year old doesn't want to be locked in the mall? I recognize things are changing i don't walk around in fear ..maybe some people need to experience more than Columbia and go back to appreciating what we have and understand nothing is without flaws.
Greg G. August 15, 2012 at 10:39 AM
I have only lived in Columbia for approx. 10 years but J. Johnson's apathetic attitude is pretty saddening. What is worse is how HoCo is burying a lot of the crime that is occurring. I was the Pres of our HOA and on numerous occasions I had to challenge HoCo Police as they didnt report crimes in the daily bulletin even though I had the police report. Why is this a problem? Keeping accurate statistics will help to allocate police in areas where crime is rising. It is my opinion that they hide a lot of the crime problems in order to keep Columbia looking like "Mayberry". We just bought a new house and I specifically told my Realtor, no houses anywhere near Tamar Drive. Why because people get "Mugged" there all the time. The police use cute euphemisms and call it other names, but my little girl is also in grade school and I didnt want to hear how she was knocked to the ground in order to steal something from her. Burying your head in the sand and going Oh well things are changing is not how to deal with it. Transparency is key. If HoCo continues to try burying this info it will never be remedied.
DFX November 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM
if you are approached by a group swaggering young men in dark clothing who seem to be mimicking music video thugs, you could use your cell phone to make a short clip of the group that would include automatic inclusion of GPS information and have it sent to the internet somewhere so that even if your cell phone were destroyed by the group, you would have their descriptions and locations for that time. With smart phones and feature phones everywhere, some sort of community system could be developed for civilians by civilians who could provide information to police authorities only when necessary. In case you have not heard, there are already apps out there that provide cell phone tips to police departments. In fact, the Howard County Police Department has adopted a widely used system called "iWatch." iWatch seems to be more oriented for after-the-fact tips and requires a lot of key strokes. It seems to be less orientated for timeliness. A more recent app is called "CrimePush." CrimePush is large-icon designed and requires far fewer key strokes. In my previous example, with a couple of thumb presses, CrimePush could send video, audio, and GPS information to an on-line server such as one operated by a mall, an apartment complex or the HCPD, instantly. An iWatch with the GUI of CrimePush would be ideal. Download the iPhone or Android apps from "GetiWatch.Com (HCPD's app is iWatchHoward) or "CrimePush.com. Ideas?
Dave A. December 01, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Yeah, do all of that in 3-5 seconds... Get real... I agree in theory but most times this happens in an instant!
Dave A. December 01, 2012 at 01:34 AM
As for gun permits MDSP issued NO permits without the good and substantial reasons attached so I guess Mike A was right after all. I guess we wait and see what happens in the appeals court of the 4th Circuit in Richmond.
Joe December 02, 2012 at 04:58 PM
"As is stands now, they no longer have to do this." YES they do. The AG's appeal effectively kept the existing law on the books until all the appeals play out. The "good and substantial" clause is still as of now the law in Maryland. Gansler issued an official opinion that said marriage licenses issued to homosexuals in other states should be honored in Maryland. He is illegally discriminating against some in this state whose out of state concealed carry licenses are NOT honored here. Illegal discrimination and uneven application of the law is now institutionalized by our state government. If one out of state license is acceptable then others should also be.
Joe December 02, 2012 at 05:02 PM
" undergo a mental health check" No one is subjected to anything like that for a permit. Don't know where you got that but that is not a part of the process right now. My permit is pending and no such process was a part of it. The face to face MSP interviewer may make a note of perceived mental health from the interview process but it is not a specific check.
Joe December 02, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Exactly right Mike A. My permit has been held since March. Had the interview and my references have been contacted and the process is effectively complete except for a letter of denial or a license issued.
Joe December 02, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Robbing people in a crowded mall in the middle of the day is brazen and not your typical gang of thugs. They must feel empowered and have little chance of paying any kind of price if caught. When a few of these unevolved are shot by their victims they ALL will think twice about who they choose as a target. When they have no idea about who is armed they will go for the most defenseless looking since they are effectively cowards and work, in this instance, as a group. Cowards is what they are.
Joe December 02, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Damnit Patch! If the Police report states the race of the perpetrators, as it does, SO SHOULD THE PATCH! STOP the censuring of the police reports!
Joe December 02, 2012 at 05:23 PM
My permit has been being processed since the middle of March. The personal face to face interview was a couple of months age. The personal references have been contacted. The process seems to have stopped and no letter of denial and no license as of today. I DID indeed add 3 pages to my application stating the "good and substantial" reason for needing a permit. I attached 3 pages of street robberies within 1 mile of my home. Robberies at ATM's, in parking lots at the local food stores, robberies of people just walking down the streets and stating I live here and could easily become a victim by just being in my neighborhood. Still waiting to hear from the MSP after 9 months.
Dave A. December 02, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I agree with Joe.... I hope I didn't sound like I was against the second ammendment in my post about permits. I was only pointing out that what Mike A was saying was correct and that those of us supporting shall issue expected that from Md.
GEORGE BAKER December 03, 2012 at 12:43 AM
WHAT'S WRONG WITH TATTOOES? AND MY GANG IS THE USMC.ALSO IF WE WERE ALOUD TO CARRY LIKE THE DEADBEATS AND THUGS, IT WOULD STOP MOST OF THIS.

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