Cops from University Park Mall in Mishawaka, Indiana, banned a five-year-old boy from visiting Santa’s grotto because his grandparents had broken rules by taking a picture of him.
Don Oberloh and his wife Debbie Cassella were kicked out of the mall along with their grandson and his mother, for taking pictures at a café.
Debbie Cassella claims they had taken the boy, who was over from California, to visit Santa and had been enjoying a drink at a cafe when security staff pounced.
The grandmother told WNDU.com: “We were just sitting around the table having something to drink, talking about what we were planning and that’s when my husband took the picture.”
According to the grandparents, security staff rushed over after they noticed Don Oberloh with his camera.
Don Oberloh recalled: “I believe she said you can’t take pictures at the mall.
“I thought she was joking and I said <<I’m taking a picture of my grandson>>, I’d understand if I was taking pictures of the architecture or the products in the stores and she became a little hostile.”
“I asked to speak with a mall manager and she flashed a badge at me, and I didn’t see it, and asked <<is this good enough?>> and I tried explaining things to her and she came back.”
Don Oberloh said he apologized but the woman became belligerent at which point he asked to speak to the manager.
Eventually he left the building after being asked by security to leave, but Debbie Cassella stayed to wait for her daughter, who had gone into a store.
Debbie Cassella added: “I told him I can’t just leave and then he said that he would remove me physically and then he called another security guard and that guy came over and then my daughter showed up and I said we were just here to take my grandson to see Santa and he said you can’t see Santa.”
Debbie Cassella said the incident was embarrassing and has vowed never to return to the mall.
A spokesperson for the University Park Mall said managers are investigating the incident.
She said it was not mall policy to immediately remove shoppers for taking a picture, but that shoppers who do not comply with requests to stop taking photos or were aggressive with staff, would be ejected.