TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- Indoor and outdoor, food courts and fitness, when it comes to shopping, Floridians love their malls.
Inside, it's easy to escape reality into a sanctuary of spending. But just how safe is all that shopping?
10 News obtained police crime figures for eight of Tampa Bay's best known shopping centers. We poured over crime reports and some of what we found was surprising.
No surprise: the number one crime in just about every mall was shoplifting. According to police reports, officers across Tampa Bay responded to nearly a thousand mall complaints of shoplifting alone. Leading the pack was Lakeland Square Mall, with 246 reported cases last year.
Pinellas County's Countryside Mall and Pasco's Gulf View Square each approached 200 complaints.
But what about crime against customers? Who would have guessed Tampa's International Plaza led the pack in that area, according to police records, with nearly 20 attacks for the year. Most were minor scuffles, but records show there was also an attack on a pregnant woman and even an officer.
International Plaza also ranked in the number of auto burglaries, 18 in 2011, according to Tampa police.
Mall managers point out International is one of the busiest malls in Tampa Bay and is also open much later, offering dining and nightlife until 3 a.m.
When it came to auto burglaries, police data showed Lakeland and Gulf View Square topped the list, each with more than 20 in 2011.
In response to the figures, company Simon Malls, representing Gulf View Square, e-mailed us to say, "The safety and security of our shoppers, retail tenants, and employees is, and always has been, our top priority."
The mall did not want to discuss specific security measures, but did say "some security measures are visible to the public, while others are intentionally less noticeable."
So, who had the lowest crime?
It was Pasco's Wiregrass. They had 36 shoplifting cases, 9 assault and batteries, and 3 auto burglaries for 2011, according to Pasco County Sheriff's Office records.
Two Hillsborough malls were close behind, according to the sheriff's office. Citrus Park had 79 shoplifting cases, 7 assault and batteries, and 5 vehicle burglaries, while Westfield Brandon had 92 shoplifters, 3 assault and batteries, and 7 vehicle burglaries.
Westfield responded by saying they utilize "uniformed and plain clothes personnel, foot and vehicle patrols, and electronic surveillance."
What does all this mean for you? The fact is crime can happen anywhere, even in the air conditioned aisles of your favorite shopping center.
MALL CRIME STATISTICS FOR 2011
Shoplifting Assault/Battery Vehicle Burglary
Lakeland 246 4 22
Countryside 194 8 14
Gulfview 180 8 20
Brandon 92 3 7
Tyrone 88 13 13
Citrus 79 7 5
International 64 20 18
Wiregrass 36 9 3