Youth must be served — but not on Friday or Saturday night. Tempe’s Arizona Mills mall, southeast of the Interstate 10 and Highway 60 intersection, will start enforcing a new weekend ban on minors this evening.
A “parental escort policy” will prohibit patrons under 18 years old from mall property after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays unless they have adult supervision. To enforce the curfew, mall officials may ask for photo identification like a drivers license or passport from customers look like they’re under age.
“We’re a family oriented environment and we just want to . . . maintain it,” said Denise Hart, the mall’s marketing director.
Hart wouldn’t specify why the mall decided to enact the curfew, saying only that officials were trying to preventing future problems.
“We weren’t correcting (a problem),” she said. “We were just taking a proactive step.”
Sgt. Mike Horn, who oversees the area that includes the mall, said center officials have consulted the Tempe Police Department on the issue and got a letter from Chief Ralph Tranter endorsing the program.
Horn said the ban is nothing unusual and pointed out other malls such as Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, which introduced a ban on unsupervised teens last year.
“It’s something that’s becoming more and more common across the country,” he said. “We are very supportive of the mall.”
Jim Brennan, general manager at Desert Ridge, said his mall introduced a so-called “chaperone policy” that excludes unsupervised kids under 15 years old.
“From day one, it was a tremendous success,” he said.
Although he said traffic initially declined, sales increased.
“They spent more time with customers (and not) chasing unruly kids out of the store,” he said.
Horn said there haven’t been any serious crimes committed on mall property; however, he cited a range of problems caused by youngsters like shoplifting, fighting and loitering.
“Whenever you have a large group of unsupervised juveniles, there can be that potential for something serious to happen,” he said.
Michael Chew, a manager at Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop in the mall, said his business has been hurt by the mass of rowdy teenagers that loiter in the mall. He said said one of his his employee who dresses up in a pretzel costume was once assaulted in the mall.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “The kids are just running amok.”
Chew said he expects his business to increase after the new policy goes into effect. “In the last five years, this mall had a real downturn in sales,” he said. “I think it’s directly attributed to it.”
Glen Hardney, who was shopping with his wife Marilyn at the mall on Monday, said he’ll likely shop more often at Arizona Mills after the new policy goes into effect. He said he was once verbally accosted by a group of teens in the parking lot.
“They’re just running rampant,” he said. “It’s out of control. They think they own the place.”