Retail Traffic Magazine
September 24, 2007 - Excerpts
... BUT MORE SINISTER SCENARIOS EXIST
In June, a terrorist attempted to drive an SUV full of explosives into the Glasgow Airport terminal in Scotland. Protective barriers, or bollards, stopped the car and prevented the terrorist from detonating the explosives inside where the terminal was jam-packed with travelers.
Security experts say that incident should be a wake-up call for owners of properties chock full of soft targets. It also underscores how effective bollards can be.
As it stands, there are no industrywide sanctioned directives or standards when it comes to protecting malls from vehicles. But that does not mean there aren't steps that can be taken. In fact, the technology to prevent or minimize the incidents is quite simple.
Mall operators and security consultants point specifically to fixed-steel barriers, known as bollards, as the most effective tool in an arsenal of defensive measures. Such bollards penetrate deep into the ground, secured by concrete. (In the case of light towers, the bollards secure to the structure above as well.)
But some experts say the industry has been slow to adopt this technology at the nation's 1,200 enclosed malls. Instead of bollards, which can cost up to $10,000 per entrance, many have opted for less expensive planters, whose costs start in the hundreds of dollars.
... Rob Reiter, national sales manager for Cal Pipe Security Bollards, which sells fixed-steel barriers, is even more blunt, saying that some mall owners are playing a dangerous game. “They are waiting for the next [mall-related] incident,” he says, "in which someone is severely injured or worse … killed and they are forced to take preventative action."
THE CAR STOPS HERE
One mall that is moving from planters to bollards is the Altamonte Mall located in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Jonathan Hubbell, senior general manager for the property, says fixed-steel barriers “are the next evolution in protecting the building.”
Hubbell should know.
The Altamonte Mall is one of the properties that was damaged in a car drive-through incident. In December, jilted teen Solomon Kahin crashed his car through one of the mall's entrances and slammed into a kiosk where a woman he was targeting worked.
During his excursion through the mall, which was closed at the time, he plowed through the mall's food court and traversed an escalator before plummeting through an atrium and crashing. The driver, who was reportedly trying to commit suicide, sustained serious injuries in the crash.
At the mall's entrances were 4-foot by 6-foot planters meant to restrict access to the property. The problem, though, was that the driver was able to push those planters aside before driving into the mall.
In August, General Growth Properties Inc. took action to prevent another incident like that from ever happening again at the 1.1-million-square-foot property. Mall management took delivery of 20 bollards to replace the planters that it had previously positioned at the mall's four major entrances.
At Sunrise Mall, a very similar story played out. Here too a distraught teen, Dwight Thomas, was targeting a girlfriend's workplace. Here, though, the incident took place while the mall was open. The car sped past a department store into the property's central court, mowed over a kiosk and then out another exit. The rampage reportedly caused $60,000 in damages.
Two months earlier, a man's expedition through Augusta Mall in a sport-utility vehicle was caught on videotape. It captured him crashing through an entrance to the mall and driving through several sections, including the food court, before exiting through another entrance.
General managers at both of those properties declined to comment regarding what preventative measures, if any, they have taken at those properties. According to a Westfield spokesperson, bollards and barriers were already in place (or being installed) at some of the mall entrances at the time of the incident. Since then, Westfield has finished installing bollards at all the mall's entrances. General Growth's corporate office did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Many owners, though, have been proactive in protecting properties. For example, Park Plaza, a 500,000-square-foot mall owned by CBL & Associates in Little Rock, Ark., has had security bollards protecting its entrances for 20 years. Recently, the bollards were updated as part of renovating the property in 2006. “I can't imagine anybody doing a building without them,” says Gary Blakney, marketing director for Park Plaza. “It's something all public buildings in this day and age should have.”
Another benefit of bollards is that they can serve as a deterrent. If someone is scouting targets, the sight of bollards could send them on to the next property, according to Born. “Anybody who's going to commit an act like this is going to look for an ideal target,” He says. “My recommendation is to make it difficult if not impossible.”
Every month, Cal Pipe's Reiter says, he gets dozens of e-mails as a result of his customized Web-engine search for vehicles crashing into retail properties ranging from freestanding fast-food and coffee shops and grocery stores, to strip shopping centers and malls. Vehicles careening through malls may get national headlines, but cars smash through storefronts all the time.
In the U.S. he estimates at least one fatality occurs every week from these kinds of incidents. For example, on August 7 a 69-year-old man was struck and killed when a car jumped the curb and hit him as it crashed into a storefront on Long Island, New York. “It's mind-boggling how often it happens and how simple it is to correct,” Reiter says.
Downey, Calif.-based Cal Pipe has produced bollards for buildings ranging from foreign embassies and U.S. government offices to industrial buildings and malls. According to Reiter, 25 percent of the firm's revenues are generated from malls and it counts four of the largest mall operators in the United States among its clients.
The cost associated with installing the steel barriers can vary significantly depending upon whether they are utilitarian or decorative and the amount of impact to be withstood. Reiter says Cal Pipe produces bollards that can stop a 15,000-pound dump truck traveling at 50 miles per hour.
“Every mall in America could defend its entrances for a couple thousand to ten thousand dollars per entrance,” says Reiter.
(This article contines at http://retailtrafficmag.com/management/security/retail_curbing_mall_drivethru/)