Shopping malls are soft targets, and desirable to many different kinds of assailants. The larger, higher profile malls around the world are high headcount targets for international terrorists, but even smaller malls in lesser known locations have a profile with built-in notoriety on a more local level. The potential for causing hysteria exists everywhere there are groups of innocent consumers.
Video surveillance systems have gotten much less expensive over the years, allowing many shopping malls to employ fairly sophisticated, centrally controlled systems with impressive clarity and ability to capture and archive days or weeks of footage at facial recognition-quality resolutions. And facial recognition software is more available and less expensive as well.
Security teams are increasingly finding the usefulness of plain clothed agents making soft contact with shoppers and positive touch experiences across all age groups. These contacts not only serve to enhance confidence among valued consumers in the environment throughout the mall, but subtly break down the comfort of anonymity that serves to empower the mischievous. Psychologically, having had contact makes a potential assailant or shoplifter identifiable, and many will likely move on to another location to perform their malicious deeds.
A recent Time Magazine article explored the expanding sophistication of the tactics employed by security teams to keep us safe to shop and be entertained in the malls and movie theaters around us.