‘Missing baby’ con at mall

2014-06-23 00:00

HELPING a woman find her “lost baby” at a mall led to a good samaritan having her shopping stolen.

A Pietermaritzburg woman’s outing to the Liberty Midlands Mall turned into a nightmare when she was the target of what she believes was a missing baby scam.

The woman, who asked not to be named, believes she was fleeced of parcels worth about R500 by women running the scam.

To make matters worse, the mall security allegedly refused to help and ordered her to find and arrest the thief herself.

She later recovered the parcels.

The woman said she and a friend were relaxing at the food court when a woman came up to them crying, saying she had lost her baby. They jumped up to help her, but when they returned to their place, they found their parcels had been stolen.

“I believe it was a baby scam because the moment the women found her child, she just grabbed the child and ran. She did not even say thank you and at the same time another women stole our parcels,” she said.

She said that when they discovered their parcels had been stolen they rushed to the security guards so the culprits could be traced through the mall surveillance system. “When we got to the security room, we found that the surveillance and the security cameras had been turned off. We had to shout at the security person there so they could turn on their surveillance cameras.”

She said the woman who stole their items was located near the Pick n Pay store, but the security guards also refused to radio their colleagues to arrest her, instead telling her and her friends that one of them should go and confront the thief. “When we confronted her, it turned into a big spectacle with people there watching. We had to wait outside the entrance while she was in the store paying for her groceries … we felt like we were the ones who were the criminals.”

She said they took the thief to the security room, only to get another brush off from security.

“They said since we had recovered our packages then there was no case to open and we should let her go. She stole at their mall. Their surveillance systems were turned off; what kind of a situation is that? People send their children there and anything could happen to them and the security will not see anything,” said the irate woman.

Centre manager at the Liberty Midlands Mall, Umi Khan said they were aware of the alleged incident and that an investigation was carried out.

“We were able to conclude that all relevant procedures were followed by the mall security.

“After reviewing the CCTV footage, the perpetrator was located and the goods returned to the customer.”

Khan said the woman was welcome to contact centre management should she wish to take the matter further.

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