TULARE, Calif. (KGPE) – The Tulare Outlet mall is on high alert after a robbery and a grand theft have taken place there less than two weeks apart from one another.
The first incident happened on Dec. 29 and two elderly women were robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot. One of the women says she was pistol-whipped during the robbery.
‘She was approached by three suspects I believe. One of them stayed in the car, two approached her on foot, one had a gun,” said Tulare Police Sargent Eddie Hinojosa.
On Jan. 10, police say four suspects walked into the mall’s Sunglass Hut and began filling their own bags with the store’s most expensive merchandise, stealing $48,000 total.
Officials believe it’s the same group that’s robbed Sunglass Hut stores in Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo and Fresno.
“One black female adult, three black male adults. One employee was smart enough to know the possible route the suspects might leave, he was able to see that it was a white Chevy Malibu with an Indiana license plate,” Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa says crime at the Outlets has increased significantly since 2020. According to officials, from Dec. 1, 2019, to Jan. 20, 2020, there were eight robberies at the Tulare Outlets.
During the same period in a year later, there were 17.
From Dec. 1, 2019, to Jan. 10, 2020, there were 94 thefts. In that period a year later, that number jumped up to 156.
“It does seem like it’s on the rise just a little bit, so what we’ve done is step up patrols in that area, we’ve asked officers to spend as much time in that area as they can when they’re on duty,” Hinojosa said.
Both investigations are ongoing and no suspects have been arrested.
The outlet’s management company was not available for comment.