Oviedo police say they have yet to determine how a burglar managed to get around security and break into several stores at the Ovideo Mall on Monday.
Originally, it was believed that the burglar may have hid inside the mall overnight. Detectives have discovered that a service door to the mall was broken and left open, said Oviedo Police Lieutenant Mike Beavers.
Regardless of how the burglar got inside, the security lapse has shopper worried. With a burglar smart enough to find a way in undetected, shoppers have one thing on their minds.
"Security," said one shopper named Terry. "If he could find a place to hide in the mall and then break in without being caught, and they supposedly have security, then how good is security?"
Store security video shows the burglar crawl through a hole in a security gate and into a jewelry store. A large amount of jewelry was stolen from Precious Fine Jewelers, located near Dillard's, and Master Cuts and Modern Furniture store were also broken into with their registers ransacked, Oviedo police said.
Police swarmed the mall, located off Red Bug Lake Road near State Road 417, around 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, unsure if the burglar was still inside, but no arrest was made.
What they found baffled them; the burglar cut through the security gates to several stores, but police still don't know how he got inside the mall in the first place.
"That mall is pretty secure, because I see that the security car is always running around the parking lot," said Asal Balouchian, another shopper.
Oviedo police fear the burglar may have done it before. Investigators said they want to know if a similar crime in Kissimmee could be related.
Kissimmee detectives sent out an alert to area police about a jewelry store burglar there, fitting the same description as the man seen on Oviedo Mall security cameras, said Kissimmee police spokeswoman Stacie Miller.
Police reviewed surveillance video from the mall and said it shows the burglar wearing a mask, gloves and dark clothing. Police say the robber has a distinct walk.
Miller said KPD does not think the crimes are related, but police in Oviedo are checking every avenue.
"You never know (why someone would do this)," an Oviedo police officer said. "People come up with crazy ideas. With the economy the way it is right now, people are getting desperate, so we're trying to ascertain (the motive) at this time."
Sandra Leyba's family lives near the mall, she told Local 6, "At the Oviedo mall? No, maybe at the Altamonte."
Leyba said, "That is just like something out of a movie, maybe they watched a movie or something and got the idea from that."
Tuesday morning, Local 6 was there as the jewelry store got ready for business as if nothing happened.
"That is like maybe he needed a hair cut, he was going out and just needed some jewelry, I mean, that is like really, they thought it out really good," said Leyba.
Oviedo police continue to investigate. Police said stores were doing inventory to see how much was stolen.