New Cameras At Boca Town Center
News 12 has learned more than six dozen security cameras are on their way to the Boca Town Center Mall. Boca Raton Mayor Steve Abrams says a homeland security grant worth 250 thousand dollars provided the funding for 5 new cameras. They will be installed over the next 2 weeks. By April, the mayor says, The Town Center Mall plans to install 75 more private security cameras, mostly in the parking lots. Right now, the mall already has several cameras installed. These new additions are partly in response to the murders of Nancy Bochiccio and her daughter Joey. As far as surveillance of other areas in Boca Raton. The Mayor tells us he's hired a consultant to survey the city and determine the best places to add new cameras.
By Luis F. Perez and Leon Fooksman
|South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Shoppers are coming and going at each entrance. All parking areas and public spaces could be recorded and stored.
In the wake of mall security finding the bodies of a mother and daughter shot and robbed in a mall parking lot, that security scenario has gained momentum and could already be on the way to becoming a reality.
One city official said he will
propose at Monday's first City Council meeting of 2008 that Boca Raton
and the mall both pay for a "a full-scale video surveillance system
covering the entire exterior of the mall."
And it's a new breed of bad guys who are willing to execute people for paltry sums of money, he said. Hager announced his proposal at the same time he declared his intention to run for mayor.
Hager could not provide more details other than to say it could cost in the range of $500,000 or more. He said he expects the council to provide City Manager Leif Ahnell with direction next week.
Mayor Steven Abrams, who cannot run again because of term limits, said the city already has been working on security cameras with the mall's management.
"And it's already being done at Town Center's expense," he said.
A federal grant paid for five cameras at the mall that are in place and operating. And with its latest budget, the city approved another five cameras for the mall, part of $250,000 set aside for a city-wide system, Abrams said. In addition, a mall official told the mayor in the days after the double homicide that plans call for installing 75 closed-circuit TVs for the mall's surveillance system. The system update should coincide with the completion of an ongoing expansion, Abrams said.
Mall managers could not be reached for comment on Monday, despite calls to their office.
Beyond the mall, city officials have been talking about joining cities large and small worldwide in posting surveillance cameras in both crime-plagued areas and public centers. A surge in robberies, theft, break-ins and now the mall double-homicide is partly behind the push in Boca Raton.
Nancy Bochicchio, and her daughter, Joey Bochicchio-Hauser, were found tied up and shot in their black SUV around midnight on Dec. 13. They were apparently forced to withdraw money from a bank ATM, police said. Surveillance footage showed them walking in and out of the mall hours earlier.
Police Chief Dan Alexander has proposed putting police cameras at parks, public buildings, shopping centers and traffic intersections. He hopes the presence of cameras will discourage crime and help investigators make arrests if suspects are caught red-handed on video.
He hasn't decided yet how many cameras would be installed around the city and what locations would get them. The costs aren't known yet either. The cameras would be added when the city upgrades its dispatch system within the next five years, Alexander said.
"In all our public places, we need more tools" to stop crime, the chief said.
Alexander said he would get response from the public before putting up the cameras.
"We want to see cameras while still respecting privacy," he said.
Luis F. Perez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6641.
Reported by: Paige Kornblue
By Jerome Burdi and Luis F. Perez
|South Florida Sun-Sentinel
A new police substation and enhanced surveillance-camera system may be in store for the Town Center at Boca Raton, mall officials announced Friday.
Plans for the substation were submitted recently to Boca Raton officials and await approval. Plans for the cameras have not been submitted yet, mall spokeswoman Billie Scott said. She said she expects the city to approve both plans and that the substation should be completed by March.
Mall officials said the Friday announcement about the substation and the security improvements already were in the works, and are not related the killings of a mother and her daughter at Town Center last month.
Nancy Bochicchio, and her daughter, Joey Bochicchio-Hauser, were found tied up and shot in their black SUV around midnight on Dec. 13. They were apparently forced to withdraw money from a bank ATM, police said.
Surveillance footage showed them walking in and out of the mall hours earlier. No arrests have been made in the case.
At least one city council member has proposed the city and mall share the cost of a "full-scale video surveillance system covering the entire exterior of the mall."
Councilman Bill Hager, who is running for mayor, said there are more brazen criminals targeting Town Center and the city needs to meet that challenge directly. The City Council is to discuss a video surveillance program on Monday. On Friday, Hager said he was pleased that mall officials are addressing security.
"This is clearly movement in the right direction," Hager said.
Still, he wants to know more details of how the surveillance program would work. That will be part of the discussion on Monday, he said.
The 1,700-square-foot substation at the mall would replace the existing police substation and incorporate the police community-service kiosk in the Sears wing, mall management said.
"Having a police car or a police officer presence at the mall may very well make a criminal think twice before doing something," said Joseph LaRocca, vice president of loss prevention for the National Retail Federation.
And in the aftermath of a homicide, it may help consumers feel safer and more comfortable shopping there, LaRocca said.
Police Chief Dan Alexander said police have patrolled the mall around the clock since they took it over from the Sheriff's Office in 2004. It's treated as one of the policing zones in the city, and the new substation would be a place for police to stop and do paperwork. Crime prevention officers also would be in the mall to improve public relations with shoppers.
"I think it's great to see the commitment we've made out there," Alexander said. "Unfortunately, I still see a lot of people that aren't aware of what's going on around them. We need the public to be cognizant of what's going on around them."
Plans for the closed-circuit security camera system have been in the works for months, mall officials said. It would augment existing security systems, they said in a statement.
Police substations can be found at high-end malls as well as at shopping centers in economically challenged areas nationwide, LaRocca said.
The on-premises police presence benefits retailers, who quickly can ask questions and file police reports, he said.
In addition, police departments like having mall substations because it gives them another place to assign officers for special and off-duty details and another place to park police cars, LaRocca said.
Staff Writer Jaclyn Giovis contributed to this report.
Jerome Burdi can be reached at email@example.com or 561-243-6531.
By Randy Schultz
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Suppose you read this news release about a mall where you regularly shop:
"Detectives are investigating an alleged armed robbery ... An adult female ... stated that she was accosted by an unknown w/m with a weapon in the first level of the parking garage ... An undetermined amount of money was reported ... taken by the w/m."
Chances are, you would be a little more cautious, especially if you're a woman. But suppose you had read a release like this:
"Detectives are investigating an alleged carjacking and abduction ... An adult female ... stated that a w/m forced her into her car, held a gun to her 2-year-old son's head and forced the adult female to drive to an ATM and withdraw money."
Wouldn't you react just a little differently? Wouldn't you consider this a suburban nightmare crime? Wouldn't you want to know this information?
This incident took place at Town Center mall in Boca Raton. The Boca Raton Police Department put out a first release on Aug. 8, one day after the woman made her complaint. Police weren't giving out any more information. The Post ran a brief on Aug. 10. Our researchers can't find any other coverage - until Dec. 14, after Nancy Bochicchio and her 7-year-old daughter were murdered in the parking lot of Town Center mall and Boca Raton police began linking the two incidents.
So, could the murders have been prevented if there had been more information about Aug. 7?
Three mall incidents, not just two
Here's a vote for maybe, which when you're talking about two lives is reason enough to say more, not less.
If the Boca cops had put out the necessary information in August, it would have alerted people. It should have made mall officials much more security-conscious. It would have made people in law enforcement wonder immediately if there was a link to the murder last March of a woman whose body was dumped near the South County Civic Center after she had been abducted from Town Center mall.
That woman, Randi Gorenberg, had been driving a Mercedes SUV. The woman who was abducted from Town Center in August also had been driving an oversized vehicle. Theory: The same person abducted Ms. Gorenberg, figuring that because of the location and the vehicle she had money. But Ms. Gorenberg didn't cooperate. So the next time, he targeted a woman with a similar profile who was with a child, offering a way to threaten the victim. The woman withdrew $600 from an ATM, and he let them go. He tried the same tactic with Ms. Bochicchio, but something went wrong.
Obviously, reporters should be wary of playing detective. But police departments owe citizens the chance to protect themselves. Boca Raton's mayor, city manager and police chief stress that investigators couldn't confirm all details of the August incident. But Councilwoman Susan Whelchel agreed that the city needs "to be more forthcoming" in such cases. And Mayor Steven Abrams did say again last week that the department at least should have noted that a child was involved.
Last two Boca chiefs forced out
Given Boca Raton's recent history with police chiefs, you can understand why city leaders are wary. In 1998, Peter Petracco resigned after revelations that 3,000 crimes between 1992 and 1997 had been downgraded and that the chief had helped to cover it up. His successor, Andrew Scott, was forced out two years ago after wrongly releasing a friend from jail and ordering the traffic stop of a man whom the chief's TV reporter/girlfriend wanted to interview.
But City Councilman Bill Hager, who is running to replace the term-limited Mayor Abrams, sounds annoyingly evasive when he refuses to say whether the department should have put out more information in August. "I'm not engaging in Monday morning quarterbacking," Mr. Hager said. "What I'm about is to constructively manage the future."
Well, sure. But it's easier to "constructively manage the future" when you have information to do so. Some cities - West Palm Beach comes to mind - worry that releasing news about crime will drive people away. As the fight against gangs shows, however, you can't deal with a problem unless people know about it. At this point, obviously, everyone wants the Bochicchios' killer caught. But a different response in August might have kept the Bochicchios from getting killed.
Randy Schultz is the editor of the editorial page of The Palm Beach Post. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Luis F. Perez | South Florida
Boca Raton - In their first meeting since the slaying of a mother and daughter found at Town Center mall, city lawmakers sharply criticized mall managers and issued their own ideas on how to improve security.
City Council members said they want mall representatives to explain, in person, what they're doing to keep the public safe. And they want to know more about a planned surveillance system for the mall.
Mall officials countered that they have been working with the city all along and will continue to do so to address the council's concerns.
Councilman Peter Baronoff had the harshest words for mall management.
"I have seen many incidents of how corporations react under tough circumstances," said Baronoff, who heads a national hospital chain. "I'm outraged at how the mall reacted."
Baronoff said the mall showed a lack of interest and responsibility after the killings and wasn't forthcoming with information. When Baronoff's wife and young daughters asked him questions about the mall's response to the crime, Baronoff said he couldn't tell them anything.
The Simon Property Group Inc., which owns Town Center, issued a statement in response to council members' comments.
"Members of the management staff at Town Center at Boca Raton have been in constant communication with the Mayor's Office and/or the Boca Raton Police Department in recent weeks to discuss increased police coverage, additional closed-circuit camera coverage, and the planned police sub-station at Town Center," wrote Billie Scott, a Simon spokeswoman. "These discussions have also included conversations about Town Center's role in supporting a reward to encourage information from the community that might assist in locating those responsible for the recent tragic event.
"We are aware of the concerns expressed by the Boca Raton City Council during their workshop meeting [Monday] and intend to address those concerns in a timely manner through appropriate channels."
Baronoff suggested the mall contribute to the $350,000 reward the city put up for information in the killing of Nancy Bochicchio and her 7-year-old daughter, Joey Bochicchio-Hauser. They were found tied up and shot in their black SUV around midnight Dec. 13 in a mall parking lot. They apparently were forced to withdraw money from a bank ATM, police said.
Councilwoman Susan Whelchel said she talked to mall manager Joe Cilia about moving the valet parking away from the front entrances to create close-in parking for young mothers and their children.
Mayor Steven Abrams said the mall should help pay for overtime that police accumulated patrolling Town Center in the aftermath of the killings. The city tripled its police presence at the mall and in three weeks racked up about $70,000 in overtime costs, Abrams and City Manager Leif Ahnell said.
Abrams and Whelchel criticized Councilman Bill Hager for proposing the city split the cost of a surveillance system with the mall. Hager pitched that idea at the same time he launched his campaign for mayor. Whelchel has said she, too, plans to run for the job held by Abrams, who can't run again because of term limits.
Hager said he wasn't interested in wrangling over the details of how to pay for the cameras. He urged the mayor to focus on the "big picture" of getting something done.
"I believe it's a mistake to be telling citizens that everything is hunky-dory," he said.
Cathy Strauss lives three doors down from where the Bochicchios lived. She came to urge the council not to spend public money on something she feels Town Center could and should pay for as a private company.
It's one sentiment the five-member council seemed to agree on.
Luis F. Perez can be reached at email@example.com or 561-243-6641.
By Nancy L. Othón | South
Well before the slaying of a mother and her young daughter, Town Center at Boca Raton was "put on notice" about security issues at the mall but failed to take any measures to protect its patrons, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed Tuesday by the sister of the dead woman.
The lawsuit, filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against Town Center owner Simon Property Group, was filed a day after Boca Raton City Council members lambasted mall officials for their response after the shooting deaths of Nancy Bochicchio and her 7-year-old daughter, Joey Bochicchio-Hauser.
Attorney David Shiner, who represents
Bochicchio's sister JoAnn Bruno, said the lawsuit is secondary to finding
Shiner slammed mall officials Tuesday, saying that a carjacking and abduction reported Aug. 7 was not appropriately dealt with in terms of security and public awareness.
"If there was a response, obviously it wasn't sufficient enough because we have an 8-year-old kid who is dead and a mother who is dead," Shiner said. "If that incident was made a little bit more public, I believe that not just Nancy and her daughter but the majority of people during the holiday would have been more aware of their surroundings and been a little more cautious."
Simon spokeswoman Billie Scott declined to comment on pending litigation.
Bochicchio and her daughter, who lived west of Boca Raton, were found Dec. 13 bound and shot in their black SUV after apparently being forced to withdraw money from an ATM. Joey Bochicchio was just days shy of her eighth birthday.
The lawsuit contends that both Boca Raton police and mall patrons put Simon officials on notice about "certain serious security problems," yet mall officials acted with reckless disregard for patrons' safety by failing to take security measures. Simon also should have anticipated that violent crimes could occur on the property but did not provide adequate security personnel, according to the complaint.
Last week, mall officials unveiled plans for a new police substation and a proposed enhancement of its surveillance-camera system. The plans have been in the works for months, mall officials said.
Town Center officials were criticized during a City Council meeting Monday during which one councilman said he was outraged about the mall's reaction in the aftermath of the double homicide. Mall officials responded with a statement, saying management staff has been in frequent contact with city officials about security as well as about Town Center's role in supporting a reward.
The reward for information about the killings stands at $350,000.
Bruno's attorneys already have begun gathering information about Simon's dealings with police on security matters, Shiner said. He has requested documentation of any meetings between Town Center officials and police.
One of the main purposes of the lawsuit is to ensure that property owners who invite people onto their premises protect those patrons, Shiner said.
"The family doesn't want to see this happen to another family," Shiner said. "We do believe that Simon Property Group has a very, very substantial responsibility in protecting its patrons."
Bruno, who has been appointed personal representative of the estates of her sister and niece, is "holding up" but remains fearful that the killer has not been caught, Shiner said.
Potential beneficiaries are listed as Bruno, Joey's father Philip Hauser and her two half-sisters, who are not identified in the complaint "due to concerns over their physical safety."
The lawsuit does not specify the damages being sought.
"A mother and her daughter were killed," Shiner said. "I don't think anyone can put a dollar amount on that."
By JANE MUSGRAVE
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
WEST PALM BEACH - Claiming Nancy Bochicchio and her 7-year-old daughter, Joey, paid for the Town Center mall's lax security with their lives, the family of the slain suburban Boca Raton residents Tuesday sued the shopping center and its corporate parent.
In what is expected to be a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, the family claims that mall managers and Simon Property Group were well aware of the need to beef up security around the Glades Road shopping mecca but did nothing to prevent the murders of Bochicchio, 47, and Joey Bochicchio-Hauser on Dec. 12.
"Not withstanding its knowledge of similar crimes and acts of violence, (mall officials) negligently, in a careless manner, and with reckless disregard of its duties and of its patrons' rights and safety, failed to" protect the Bochicchios or other customers, says the lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
David Shiner, who is representing the family, declined Tuesday to say how much he is seeking.
"How do you put a dollar amount on the value of someone's life?" he said.
The lawsuit isn't about money, Shiner said. "The main goals are to catch this person or persons who committed these crimes and to make sure this doesn't happen again in the future," he said.
The Bochicchios were found dead early Dec. 13 in their idling SUV in the mall parking lot. Bochicchio had been forced to withdraw money from an ATM and both had been bound and shot, police said. Goggles had been placed over Nancy Bochicchio's head, a source said.
The attack is markedly similar to one that occurred in August although details of the earlier crime weren't made public until after the Bochicchios were killed.
On Aug. 7, a 30-year-old woman and her 2-year-old son also were ambushed in a mall parking lot. A man held a gun to the boy's head and forced the woman to withdraw $600 from an ATM, her relatives said. Relatives also said the attacker bound her and forced her to wear goggles. They survived the attack and the woman has retained an attorney.
That attack, and other security breaches, should have spurred mall officials to act, Shiner said.
"Property owners have to be responsible for the safety of their customers," he said.
Like angry and frustrated members of Boca Raton's city council, Shiner criticized mall officials' reactions to the murders and pleas to improve security.
"What response?" he said.
Describing itself as the largest publicly-traded real estate company in the nation with scores of malls and 5,000 employees worldwide, the Indiana-based company last week issued a statement that plans for a new surveillance system and a police substation expansion at the mall are on track. It said nothing about the murders that stunned residents throughout South Florida.
Through a spokeswoman, it declined comment on the suit Tuesday, saying it doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Perhaps the lawsuit will be a catalyst for the mall giant to help police solve the murders, said attorney Peter Sosin, who is Shiner's partner.
"It's a public company with hundreds of millions of dollars of assets, which has hundreds of people who could tell them what they can do to help out," Sosin said.
At the city council's first meeting since the Bochicchio murders, members sharply criticized the Simon Group Monday for not responding to the attacks or explaining to the public what it intends to do to improve security.
While city police have worked overtime investigating the attack and the city has posted a $350,000 reward, the Simon Group has not offered to contribute toward the arrest of the killer.
"I'd like to see the mall come here and participate," Councilman Peter Baronoff said.
The lawsuit was filed by Joann Nancy Bruno, personal representative of the estate of her sister and her niece.
Any money also would go to Joey's father, Philip Hauser, and her two half-sisters, who are identified only as Jane Doe 1 and 2. The half-sisters' identities are being kept secret for their safety, according to the lawsuit.
The fear is real, the attorneys said.
"It wasn't put that way for effect," Sosin said.
Shiner said the family isn't alone.
"It's an outrage," he said of the murders. "There's outrage all over the community."
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The
family of a woman and child found dead in the parking lot of a Boca
Raton mall are suing the shopping center and its corporate parent.
Posted: Jan 9, 2008 09:48 AM
Reporter: Lindsay Cohen
A lawsuit has now been filed by the family of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio. The mother and daughter were found murdered in the Boca Raton Town Center Mall parking lot December 13.
The murder remains unsolved, and a $350,000 reward is still unclaimed.
But the big question is could the murders of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio have been prevented?
That question is raised in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the mall and its parent company, Simon.
According to our news partners at the Palm Beach Post, the victims' family contends that Simon and mall managers knew about security shortfalls but did nothing to improve them.
You may remember there were striking similarities between the Bochicchio case and a carjacking and kidnapping at the mall back in August.
The attorney representing the Bochicchio's family argues the August attack should have sparked significant changes in mall security, and, without those changes, mall patrons have gone severely unprotected.
Our message left for that attorney, so far, has not been returned. But he told the Palm Beach Post while the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, this isn't about money, it is about finding the Bochicchios' killer.
An e-mail sent to a spokesman
for Simon malls, so far, has not been returned.