Friday, July 17, 2009

SPIES UP YOUR SHOPPING

SPIES UP YOUR SHOPPING
Not content with uniformed guards and CCTVs, the city’s main malls are now getting men and women in plain clothes to spy on suspected shoplifters, eve-teasers and amorous couples
BANGALORE MIRROR BUREAU


Get ready for more surveillance, and where you least expect or want it! Next time you visit a mall, be conscious about not locking eyes with that otherwise decent looking man, but with a slightly decrepit air. Or for that matter, with that nattily dressed woman lurking near the escalator. For, the last thing you would want is to have them thinking you are up to something and to tail you!
In the city’s malls, shoppers will henceforth be watched, not only by electronic eyes, but by real spies deployed by managements to keep a leash on eve-teasers, mischiefmongers, and, of course, coochiecooing couples. Most shopping malls have started employing spies on the lines of bouncers in pubs. These men, dressed in civilian clothes, spread out to all corners of the complex and act as eyes and ears of their management.
PVR Cinemas in Forum Mall, Koramangala, for instance, swears by this method. Satish Kumar D, general manager, PVR Cinemas, said, “We have a couple of people in civvies who man the PVR floor. This is to catch eve-teasers, pickpockets and those misbehaving with women. We also have guards and CCTV cameras, but still it pays to have plain-clothes men guarding us.” MEN IN CIVVIES
“Guards can’t stand near ticket counters. So, having men in plain clothes helps,” he said. Forum Mall has been having an Emergency Response Team since inception. “The team comprises well-built people with army or police background. Guards are wellequipped with communication devices like walkie-talkies, which can put off the mischiefmongers,” said Mohammed Ali, Head, Forum Mall.
Ali, however, was averse to having guards in plain clothes. “Our idea is not to wait till something happens and then catch the miscreant. We prefer to prevent untoward incidents so that no one gets hurt,” he said.
MUFTI MIGHT
Garuda Mall, located on Commissarate Road, isn’t lagging behind. The security and well-being of customers is its top priority. This mall has eight guards guarding four floors, two of them in plain clothes. None of them has been outsourced from any security firm.
“We do have guards in mufti and they have been around since inception. In all, there are eight guards,” said T G Vinod, general manager (mall operations), Garuda Mall.
“There have been instances when some miscreants were identified and handed over to the police,” he said. Sources in Gopalan Mall, located on Mysore Road, said miscreants create a nuisance in malls. “Many visit malls not to shop, but for time-pass. Teasing shoppers or picking up fights with the mall staff seems to be their motive. Such activities impact our business,” a manager said. “The presence of guards in plain clothes helps,” he added.
‘FAME-D’ GUARDS
The Fame Mall too has embraced this method. Guards in plain clothes have been deployed to keep miscreants in check in both Fame Lido and Symphony. “In Fame Symphony, we have 15 uniformed guards and three in civilian clothes. In Lido, we have eight guards in uniform and two in plain clothes,” said Sonali Shroff, Head (corporate communications), Fame.
Even small shopping complexes have employed ‘mall spies’ to keep a watch on shoplifters. An employee of a shopping avenue at Marathalli said: “We have both male and female workers who go around all the floors posing as customers. Each of these are paid anywhere between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000.”

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