Haunting photos of an Ohio mall that became a hotbed of crime before it was demolished

Rolling Acres Mall in Ohio shut its doors in 2008.

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Rolling Acres Mall in Ohio shut its doors in 2008.
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Seph Lawless

  • American malls are dying out.
  • More than 6,400 stores closed in 2017, and another 3,600 are expected to shutter in 2018. According to a report done by Credit Suisse, this will result in 20% to 25% of malls closing in the next five years.
  • These empty buildings make ideal places for crime.

The retail apocalypse has created a dangerous problem. Abandoned malls are becoming breeding grounds for crime, and it’s likely to get worse as more malls close.

More than 6,400 storesclosed in 2017, and another3,600are expected to shutter in 2018. According to a reportdone by Credit Suisse, this will result in 20% to 25% of malls closing in the next five years.

These desolate malls, often on the outskirts of town, are becoming crime hotspots.

Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio, is a prime example of this, as the vacant mall has been the scene of several crimes. A homeless man was sentenced to a year in prison for living inside a vacant store, another man was electrocuted trying to steal copper wire from the mall, and the body of a likely murder victim was found behind the shopping center.

As a result, the mayor of Akron instructed residents to “stay clear of the area,” and the city began the process of demolishing the rotting shopping center in October 2016.

Take a look at these haunting photos of Rolling Acres that were taken by photographer Seph Lawless in 2012, before it started being demolished.

You can find more of Lawless’ work on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.


All across America, malls are decaying.

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Seph Lawless

Lawless first visited this Akron, Ohio, mall in 2012 for his book “Black Friday.”

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Seph Lawless

When he revisited the mall, he found it was covered in snow.

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Seph Lawless

“It was eerily quiet and beautiful,” he told the blog PetaPixel.

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Seph Lawless

Lawless compared the experience to being inside of a “make-believe snow globe.”

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Seph Lawless

For years, big anchor stores like JCPenney and Sears drove traffic to the entire mall.

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Seph Lawless

It was once packed with visitors.

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Seph Lawless

But when these stores closed, traffic slowed.

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Seph Lawless

It became a hub for crime, and the city considered it a danger to residents.

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Seph Lawless

A dead body was found around the back of the mall in 2011.

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Seph Lawless

Source: The Plain Dealer


In 2016, the city increased police presence there.

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Seph Lawless

Source: Cleveland 19


In October 2016, it started to be demolished.

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Seph Lawless