LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Checking bags at a national theater chain has become more common, but a Sunday experience has left two East Texas families feeling violated.
"We were sitting there and all of a sudden this mall security cop came up and he said I hear you're taking pictures; and me and my husband were like what. He said well I was told that you were taking pictures. I need to see your phone," Monica Fuller said.
They were told that were not allowed to take pictures inside the mall.
Fuller said, "Well, I see people taking pictures with their kids in the mall all the time. I said I've never heard of such; and he said if I see them, they delete them."
Fuller says no pictures of inside the mall were found in either phone.
Jason Gipson and his family witnessed the incident in the mall's food court.
"It was quite troubling to see a peer go through that," Gipson said.
KTRE Contacted Lufkin's mall security office and they stated bags and purses were checked as a security precaution.
"I handed him my ticket. He said I need to search your bag. I asked why. He said well I need to search your bag, and I said I don't think so," Fuller said. "He said you're more than welcome to leave your purse in the car but you can't take it in."
Fuller asked for a refund and left the movie theater. A few minutes later she and her husband came back to watch more unfold. About five to ten minutes later Fuller says the security guard accused the family of snapping photos of the bag checking process at the entrance of the movie theater and took their phones to look through their pictures.
"They created this really weird feeling of an unsafe condition in Lufkin, Texas. I mean, it was an extraordinary strange experience," Gipson said. "Being a father of a 10 and 11-year-old I can tell you we've pretty much caught every one of the big movie premieres that have come here to this theater. I've never seen them check bags one time."
Mall security referred KTRE to Carmike Cinemas' corporate office. We reached out to them Monday, but have yet to hear from them.