(U//FOUO) DHS Shopping Malls Warning

Risk Management Division

  • 2 pages
  • For Official Use Only
  • September 13, 2006


The United States has more than 46,000 shopping malls nationwide, ranging in size from small open-air neighborhood “strip” shopping centers containing fewer than 10,000 square feet (ft2) of store area to super-regional malls with more than 1 million ft2.

Terrorist activity indicators are observable anomalies or incidents that may precede a terrorist attack. Indicators of an imminent attack requiring immediate action may include the following:

• Persons in crowded areas (e.g., mall common areas, food courts) wearing unusually bulky clothing that might conceal suicide explosives; weapons (e.g., automatic rifle) may also be concealed under their clothing

• Unattended vehicles illegally parked near mall buildings or places where large numbers of patrons gather

• Unattended packages (e.g., backpacks, briefcases, boxes) that might contain explosives

• Unauthorized access to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) areas; indications of unusual substances near air intakes

Indicators of potential surveillance by terrorists include:

• Persons using or carrying video/camera/observation equipment over an extended period

• Persons discovered with shopping mall maps, photos, or diagrams with facilities highlighted

• Persons parking, standing, or loitering in the same area over a multiple-day period with no apparent reasonable explanation

• Mall personnel being questioned off-site about practices pertaining to the mall

• Employees changing working behavior or working more irregular hours

• Persons observed or reported to be observing mall receipts or deliveries

• A noted pattern or series of false alarms requiring a response by law enforcement or emergency services

• Unfamiliar cleaning crews or other contract workers

• An increase in buildings being left unsecured

• An increase in threats from unidentified sources

• Unusual or unannounced maintenance activities in the vicinity of the mall

• Sudden losses or thefts of guard force equipment

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