It was an act of boldness and it sent a message.

The armed robbery that took place at HT Commons Shopping Center this week on an otherwise peaceful morning was a demonstration of sheer audacity.

And it served notice that nothing can be taken for granted.

In so many ways, Monday was just a typical mid-August day when families prepare for fall and the school year.

Shoppers were busy grabbing up back-to-school bargains at the Walmart Supercenter.

Others were patronizing a beauty supply store, shoe store, dollar store and other businesses.

But two men were lurking in the parking lot with a much different routine in mind.

They took a calculated risk.

Police say the men brandished a handgun and entered RadioShack at 10:45 a.m.

There, they assaulted an employee by tying him to a chair in a back room, binding his arms and legs with heavy-duty tape.

The men then stole an undetermined amount of electronic merchandise, grabbing what they could.

It was nothing short of a miracle that nobody entered the store in the prelunch hour while the robbery was underway.

If they had, a confrontation likely would've resulted and could have proved fatal. As for the employee, thankfully he wasn't harmed physically.

But he was exposed to great stress and mental trauma certain to have a lasting impact.

"I can't imagine enduring what he went through after he told me what happened," said a relative of the employee, who was not named.

"I hope the people who held him up will be caught so that no one else will be put through an armed robbery and have to deal with a similar situation. It's sad that our world has become so evil."

Rush Township police are doing their best to track down those responsible.

Similarly, Hazleton police are searching for an armed man who robbed KFC at 10:25 p.m. Sunday.

That particular crime took place late at night, a more typical time for nefarious deeds.

However, the thieves who struck on Monday at Plaza Drive showed there is no need for cover of darkness to pull off a heist.

A busy shopping center in broad daylight is not immune to the boldness of the criminal mind.

There's a prevalent misconception that malls and shopping centers are somehow a sanctuary from the real world.

The truth is just the opposite, according to The New York Times.

After a study on the subject, the newspaper reported that crime rates in the nation's malls increased every year since 1978.

"Crime is rampant at malls," according to the story.

There's a take-away lesson here for all of us. We need to be vigilant as we go through daily routines.

Violent, daring crime can happen any time of day in any location.

Always be cautious, always be observant and take nothing for granted.

By DONALD R. SERFASS

dserfass@tnonline.com