Employees Citadel Mall robbery story was false, police say
As kiosk keepers in the Citadel Mall packed up late Wednesday, it seemed like an ordinary closing time.
The manager of Oxford Perfume and Jewelry locked up his cases of gold necklaces and platinum rings.
A man who spray-paints T-shirts outside The Children’s Place stashed his airbrush and chatted with two police officers.
They were all unaware of what someone said was happening less than 70 yards away.
About 9:20 p.m., a worker at the Gold Buyers of America kiosk said a man punched him, stole the day’s bank deposit, then escaped through nearby emergency doors.
But the Charleston police officers in the mall never noticed anybody matching the suspect’s description: A man in jeans and a Brooklyn Nets hat. Outside, their attempts to track down a robber also were fruitless.
That’s because the worker’s story was bogus, police said. He’s now accused of taking the money for himself.
Hasan Mungo, 19, of Carnegie Avenue later was arrested on charges of filing a false felony report, conspiracy to commit a felony and breach of trust with fraudulent intent. It was Mungo’s first arrest in South Carolina.
Police said he staged the robbery with 21-year-old Cavin Eric Lavon Coleman of Dove Haven Court, who is accused of making off with the cash. Coleman faces a count of conspiracy to commit a felony.
At the mall on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard, reaction to the second report of a robbery in a month was tepid. Leigh Burnett, a regional spokeswoman for CBL & Associates, which owns the business, would say only that the mall is a safe place.
Six hours before Wednesday’s robbery report, police redistributed a sketch of a man suspected of mugging a shopper a month ago inside a restroom near Dillard’s. The robber was described as a black man close to 30 years old. He also had bad teeth, the police said.
West Ashley residents like Lucy Guevara heard of that Christmastime robbery, but it hadn’t disturbed her. As she waited to have lunch with loved ones in the food court Thursday, Guevara held cash in her hands.
“You see security everywhere,” she said. “You don’t expect that.”
At the Gold Buyers kiosk, manager Bruce Reed pointed to the security cameras dangling from the wooden framework. He said the incident was caught on video. Neither Reed nor the police would say how much money was stolen.
“I don’t want to say that we do have a security problem,” Reed said before the arrests were made Thursday afternoon. “It’s more or less just a time issue. It’s about getting out the door earlier” with the cash.
Zikki Shirazi, who manages the Oxford Perfume and Jewelry stand, sorted the chains dangling from his forearm and also dismissed any notion of a security issue. As someone who regularly shutters his shop, Shirazi said he tries to leave before 9 p.m., the mall’s closing time.
If he needs to carry out a bag of cash, he said, he would call mall security guards for an escort. The mall sent out letters during the holidays to remind shopkeepers of that service.
“We’re usually not selling anything at 9 anyway, so I try to get out before then,” Shirazi said. “It’s my job to keep an eye on things. I cannot blame anybody else if something happens.”