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Lights Out: What’s with the dark parking lot at Sunrise Mall?

A portion of Sunrise Mall’s parking areas is dark after what mall general manager said was vandalism from homeless individuals attempting to tap into the mall’s electricity to charge devices. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
Mall shoppers and patrons of a recently opened children’s theater have found a large portion of the Sunrise Mall parking lot dark in recent weeks, prompting questions about safety and maintenance.

Much of the parking area between JCPenny and the men’s Macy’s store has been dark, and mall-goers have been observed navigating by headlight or mobile device during evening hours. Mall General Manager James Anderson told The Sentinel in a phone call Wednesday that the outage was caused by homeless individuals attempting to tap into the mall’s electrical system to charge devices.

“There’s been issues with the homeless population digging up the electrical wiring in the shopping center trying to charge cell phones,” Anderson said. “We’ve done a temporary repair twice, but with the heavy rains, the water got into the repair and shorted it out.”

Temporary lights were seen set up in the parking lot Wednesday night, after Sentinel questions to Sunrise MarketPlace and the mall’s general manager earlier that day.

Anderson said he believes individuals are attempting to access the low voltage irrigation wires but end up damaging the lighting system despite “high voltage” warning labels on the access panels. He said two poles will need to be rewired.

An electrical company has been contacted to perform permanent repairs, at a cost of about $5,000, Anderson said. The work is set to begin Dec. 23 and he estimates it will take about a day to complete.

“That’s the soonest we could get,” Anderson said, pointing to the holiday season when many electricians are taking time off. “But we did ask them to expedite it so if they have a job that cancels or something that falls off the schedule, we’ll be moved up.”

Sunrise MarketPlace Director Kathilynn Carpenter confirmed the repair date in a Wednesday email to The Sentinel saying “The mall is aware and working on it.”

About 85 percent of the parking areas of the mall are lit, Anderson said, and the mall is encouraging shoppers to use the lit areas of the parking lots until repairs can be completed.

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