Fashion Square Mall

A gun, some new sneakers and the Bad Stranger

A gun, some new sneakers and the Bad Stranger

There were 8,953 robberies and 320 kidnappings last year in Los Angeles.

Numbers like that have always felt abstract to me. But I realize now that behind each of those robberies and kidnappings, there's a story. I say this with some authority because at 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 29, I became one.

I woke up that morning ready for battle. Preschool was closed, my 3-year-old son, Dean, needed sneakers and my father-in-law — our kids call him Nana — was in town. Our morning activity would be a surgical strike on the Fashion Square Mall in Sherman Oaks. Get in. Get sneaks. Get out.

Not long after 11, the three of us were headed back to the car with some size-10 velcros. Mission...

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