New policy at a DC mall aims to cut down on unaccompanied minors in stores

A new policy at the DC USA mall in Columbia Heights aims to cut down on unaccompanied minors in its stores.

Signs posted on the mall’s front entrance, and in front of stores like Target and Burlington Coat Factory, are crystal clear: Under the new policy, shoppers under 18 will now need to be accompanied by an adult or they’ll be turned away.

“Probably within the last week and a half — something like that,” said one shopper named Trae, when WTOP asked him how long he’d seen the new signs explaining the policy shift.

“It would have to be very recent,” he added. “I do shop here often. That’s the first time I’ve seen a policy like that listed anywhere.”

A sign informing shoppers of the mall’s new unaccompanied minors policy is displayed in front of Target. (WTOP/Matt Kaufax)

Security staff on-site confirmed that the signs went up this past Monday, but referred WTOP to DC USA and its ownership company, Grid Properties (based in New York City) for additional comment. So far, neither entity has responded when asked why these new rules are being enforced.

But shoppers say it could be because of a string of recent thefts by kids, who have been looting places like Target, aware that security can’t do much to stop them since they’re minors.

At a nearby CVS, shoplifting rings and a string of thefts left shelves bare and had the store lining shelves with pictures of products that were kept in a backroom where they are safely stored.

“It would make sense for sure,” D.C. resident Trae said, when asked if he was surprised that a policy like this was announced after recent thefts.

But Trae added that he questions how effectively the rule will be enforced.

“There would be no way for the security guards to tell how old a person is unless they are checking for IDs,” he said.

However, he said he has seen the policy in action already.

“I’ve seen two young ladies get turned away from the Target. The security guard asked them their age,” Trae said.

Matt Kaufax

If there's an off-the-beaten-path type of attraction, person, or phenomenon in the DC area that you think more people should know about, Matt is your guy. As the features reporter for WTOP, he's always on the hunt for stories that provide a unique local flavor—a slice of life if you will.

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