Photo of Maplewood Mall by Rasheed Ajamu.

Kiya McNeil woke at 12:35 AM on Friday, September 10, to a knock on her door from the police. They told her that there was an attempted burglary at her restaurant, Bistro on the Mall. across the street from where she lives on Maplewood Mall. Police said someone threw a brick at the restaurant’s front door, which set off the alarm. Luckily, the suspect wasn’t able to take off with anything. But that’s because McNeil had just upgraded the security after a successful break-in only two weeks before.

“We had tempered glass,” McNeil said, describing the restaurant’s original front door. “They threw a brick through the glass door. And then they stepped through it, so they never physically opened the door. So, they went in, opened the office drawer, and took the cash box.”

The former security system was designed to go off only if someone physically opened the front door, so she didn’t receive an alert like she did the second time. The burglary happened in the late night/early morning hours of Friday, August 27. That morning, McNeil informed customers on the business’s Instagram account that they would close that day to clean up and reopen the next. She also launched a GoFundMe to help her pay for the same repairs that helped prevent the most recent break-in attempt. It raised over $1K.

Photo pulled from the Bistro on the Mall Instagram page.

McNeil says she has purchased a new laminated window, a gate, and a motion detector for the front door from the raised funds. She says that the Germantown community has rallied around the restaurant..

“People would just stop by to check-in and say, “let me purchase something just so we can support,”  because they want us to stay. There were quite a few people who came by that day to help clean up the glass. It was pretty cool,” McNeil says.

One possible solution that McNeil identified to combat the increase of crimes is external cameras. She says that businesses may have their internal cameras and few that point directly outside of their businesses. But, if the entire strip had cameras pointing onto the outside, they could identify problems  more easily. . 

One of the owner’s primary concerns is the lack of police presence in the mall. McNeil says foot traffic lessens after the restaurant closes at 8 pm, so fewer people are on the lookout. Initially, a meeting with officials like State Representative Darisha Parker was scheduled for Monday, September 20, to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing problems. The conference will be rescheduled  to invite the police captain.

McNeil revealed that they had requested police support. Still, because of heightened crime in the city and lack of coverage, police have not been able to do so. “We’re just asking for help. We just want to be protected,” she explains.