We just had a very unfortunate incident today at the Robinson’s Galleria in Ortigas Center. My mother-in-law just visited us from Davao since she attended a board meeting just this week. Since she’s done with her official business, she decided to take us to the mall with her sister-in-law and my son so we can buy some “pasalubongs” and look for a pair of rubber shoes for my youngest brother-in-law.

To cut the story short, I left then at SM Megamall since I had to buy the shoes at SM Marikina. They decided later on to set Robinson’s Galleria Mall as the meeting place for her children including my wife since they have a scheduled dinner with a relative from Taytay, Rizal. So at 7:12 PM, I got an SMS that they are already at Pancake House waiting dinner. I headed to the mall and got a parking slow. My brother-in-law followed and minutes later, my wife.

The dinner ended fast so I went out to check some items at the Gary Lising Store when I noticed that something is happening inside the diner. I went inside and learned that my mother-in-law’s 2 wallets with her cash, identification cards, ATM cards, Credit Cards and other important stuffs are missing. Out guest paid the bill and we all decided to head to the Mall Security Office. We then tried to reconstruct what happened prior.

At 7:00 PM, everyone was seated at the Lacoste store where a plant box was situated and a space for mall-goers to sit and wait for their friends. It seems that just before their guests arrived, a “white man” as per my son’s description seem to be insisting on taking the seat just beside my son. My auntie was quite annoyed that she was about to confront the guy when the guests came and so they all went to greet them. My mother-in-law’s bag was placed besides my son as he was playing with his PSP. Hmp!

As told, the guy then sat just beside my son pinning the bag and perhaps that gave the opportunity for him to pick both wallets plus a bag containing some maintenance medicines. As the family decided to head towards Pancake House, they have noticed that the foreign guy left as well and so unsuspecting, they proceeded for the dinner. The “white man” was in his 30s and was wearing a black pants and a formal short-sleeved polo.

Now, the story is being made clear. As we were discussing with the people at the security office, we learned that the mall has no reliable CCTV cameras around that could have at least helped us pinpointing at the exact time period what happened and who did what. No camera as well is installed near ATM machines and mall entrance same as the rival SM Shopping Malls where a recent kidnapping case was solved because of the effective CCTV installed at the said mall.

We have noticed that no CCTV monitors are even installed at the Security Office. We tried calling banks so as we can suspend and cancel all the stolen cards and it took us awhile because the Security Office has no updated Philippine Telephone Directory and they have no list of emergency numbers for all banks. The advice was that they will just contact us should any of their men get to locate any of the missing belongings in trash cans as robbers usually thrash off their stolen items after getting all what they can use.

My mother-in-law was quite worried because her ID indicated her date of birth and unfortunately, she has been using that as her PIN for her cards. As we were cancelling her cards, a bank informed us of several failed attempts to withdraw cash from an ATM recorded at 7:20PM using her stolen cards. The location of the ATM is to be determined come Monday but that just proves that indeed the culprit is already trying to access the cards.

As we were all into a small commotion inside the small office, a lady and her fellow came inside complaining that she lost her bag with her car key, car registration documents, house keys, ID cards and some cash as she was about to use the toilet. She narrated that she put her bag on the flat surface just behind the toilet and as she was about to leave, her bag was somehow fished from the other cubicle and was nowhere to be found. The janitors manning the area are clueless. No CCTV camera is around the area and even at mall entrance so they could have checked ladies carrying her bag using the supposed captured CCTV videos.

She alleged that the mall has been a haven for robbers and his sibling once almost got stabbed when he was held up at point blank at the mall’s food court area. What they got as a consolation after having the incident published for awareness was just a movie ticket for two. Years after that, nothing has been done to improve the security management at the mall and every day, a lot of unsuspecting mall-goers are being victimized by these organized syndicates of bandits.

We tried checking almost all trash cans and searched the mall for the “white guy” with the help of my son but to no avail. In the end, my mother-in-law ended up card-less both for withdrawing cash for her use and for validating her identity once she gets to check-in at the airport this Sunday for her return flight to Davao. Money is something that is earned so we are not bothered that much yet what concerns us is the fact that the mall itself lacks security measures and devices to provide safety to mall-goers. It’s a sad plight!

I do hope that someone from the GOKONGWEI GROUP or those directly linked to ROBINSON’S GALLERIA get to read this blog entry and be able to realize some improvements and some other positive resolution to the rampant incidents of theft inside their premises. The mall has to be equipped with CCTV cameras for security and safety purposes. Security Personnel are also expected to be proactive. More so, this should also act as a lesson that we all should never leave our things unattended. We should at least guard not just our properties but kids as well.

Anyway, it’s 4AM already. Life has to move on for us. The meantime, we are to take care of my mother-in-laws expenses and make sure that she gets to enjoy and forget all about the incident until Sunday. Besides, I believe that when something is stolen, something big is to be given back to you. It is just sad that the culprit has to deal with his own karma forever. So I end this with a reminder… PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN MALLING AT THE ROBINSON’S GALLERIA MALL and also with other shopping malls. Be watchful of your surroundings and with your belongings. Thank you and have a nice day!