CONCORD, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Concord Mills’ new Youth Supervision Policy went into effect 3 p.m. Friday. Under the new guidelines, guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult 21 or older on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 3 p.m.
“During the later times, most parents can’t really come out here, you know? A lot of kids drive themselves, especially in the range of 16 to 17, so they can hang out with their friends. It’s going to be hard to bring a parent out here when everybody wants to do their own thing,” said shopper Michael Ezechukwu.
The mall says the changes are in response to community feedback, “as the center reinforces its commitment to the community to provide a pleasant, family friendly shopping environment.”
Concord Police Chief Gary Gacek says he is confident the new policy will drastically improve the number of incidents that happen at the mall on the weekends. Since the beginning of 2017, Concord PD has responded to around 850 incidents at the mall, 68% of which have involved shoplifting.
Reactions to the policy have been mixed, with some believing the policy will bring real changes to mall safety and others believing it won’t have any impact.
“If you think it’s a crime that’s only being committed by teenagers, I mean, there’s also adults stealing from this place if you want to be real about it,” said Ezechukwu.
“It’s in general the whole population. It’s mid-age people, it’s adults, it’s older people. Crime is everywhere, so unfortunately, I don’t think this is going to change a thing,” said shopper Robert Cordell.
A spokesperson from Concord Mills says the mall plans to enforce the policy “equally, fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner.” They say mall entrances will be manned to check IDs, and teenagers and adults may be asked to show proof of age. If individuals are unable to provide appropriate ID, the mall says they will be asked to leave the property.
“It’s private property. It’s a for-profit business. This is an administrative policy. We’re not in the business of enforcing administrative policies. If the mall tells a juvenile, ‘Hey, you need to leave because of this policy,’ and they refuse, that turns into trespassing and that’s where the police department would then get involved,” said Chief Gacek. “We’re just looking for voluntary compliance with that administrative policy.”
Chief Gacek confirmed the policy applies to all businesses at the mall, including the AMC movie theater and speed park.
“[Teens} might actually stop coming and find something else to do. They might actually lose some business here. Who knows?,” said Cordell.
The exception to the policy is for mall employees. Concord Mills says they will allow mall employees under 18 to continue to work without adult supervision. But, once their shifts are over, those employees will still be required to have adult supervision.