Live from the Westfield mall

It must be crime week here at SFluxe.

After an afternoon of shopping at Bloomingdales, I went down to the food court at Westfield shopping center on Market Street (about 7:00 pm, Thursday) for a little refreshment, when all of a sudden I saw a young woman trip and fall off the stairs, landing face first on the hard stone floor. It quickly became apparent, by the rush of strong male bodies following after her, that she had been caught shoplifting and was in flight from security. She landed so hard on the floor, one would have been certain she broke a bone or two on impact. Very well, she shouldn’t have been stealing.

But then as a crowd gathered, the undercover security guards (who had by now pinned her down on the ground) got increasingly aggressive. As the skinny young black woman — probably late teens or early twenties in age — was clearly going nowhere, it seemed they were overdoing it a bit. Good heavens, I thought, there’s nothing so valuable on the first floor to warrant this treatment. It’s not like she stole that new silver YSL coat I want — it’s not even in stores yet!

More shoppers surrounded, and many became uncomfortable by the way the thief was being treated. A big burly uniformed security guard came, but one of the undercover guards pushed him away. As one of the men’s knees pushed into the back of the woman, still lying on the ground, she yelled that she couldn’t breathe, and pleaded for someone in the crowd to help her. “Stop being so rough,” one of the shoppers yelled. “Get off her, she can’t breathe,” said another. Meanwhile, others pulled out their cell phones and took pictures of the incident. A moment later, she was cuffed and walked to the security room for her arrest.

As I sat at the food court, I noticed several angry shoppers complain to the uniformed guards, and I think they had pictures, too.