The holiday shopping season is here and millions of people will be heading to the nation’s shopping malls focused on finding the perfect gifts, but crime isn’t taking a holiday. Police departments across the country report increased calls during the holiday season when shoppers tend to think less about holiday shopping mall safety and more about buying presents.
Shopping mall safety is especially important this holiday season when malls are more vulnerable to violent crime, according to Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services.
Fiel said, “It’s never possible to completely eliminate the risk of violence, but being aware of your surroundings and choosing to shop at malls that take security seriously are two important things you can do to help protect yourself and your family against violence while shopping this season.”
To help make shopping at the mall safer for you and your family, Fiel suggests the following tips:
• Park in a well-lit area as close to your destination as possible. Parking lots and structures are typically the most dangerous places at the mall. If you are shopping alone and feel uncomfortable walking to your car at night, ask mall security officers for an escort.
• Consider valet parking during the holiday season when many malls offer free or reduced price valet parking. Look for security cameras and try to park near them. Also, opt for walkways leading to malls and parking lots that have security cameras installed.
• Choose to do your holiday shopping at malls that take security seriously. Shopping destinations with regular mall security patrols and visible surveillance cameras provide an added layer of security and a deterrent to criminals.
• Avoid using restrooms that are tucked away in a back area of a mall or store department. If you can, find a restroom near the mall’s food court or other well-trafficked area and always accompany your child.
• Don’t overload yourself with packages. Thieves are always on the lookout for people who might be distracted, keep track of your packages and try to stay off your cell phone. Hold your purse close to your body or use a front pocket if carrying a wallet.
• Always know where the closest exits are located. In case of a fire or other emergency, make sure you can find the nearest exits and remember to avoid using elevators in an emergency.
• Take extra care when returning to your car. If you notice anyone suspicious in the parking area you can use your keys as a weapon. If needed, you can also use your car’s alarm system by pushing the panic button on your alarm remote control or car horn to draw attention.
“Being extra vigilant this holiday season will help keep you from becoming a crime victim,” said Fiel. “Always trust your instincts and report any and all suspicious activity to shopping mall security officers or your local police. Reporting suspicious activity today will help keep your mall safer tomorrow.”