On Tuesday, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office started moving assets, putting a mobile command post at the Treasure Coast Square Mall. They also have signs in place that will light up to remind shoppers to be alert.
Extra deputies will be on patrol at the mall and other area stores during shopping hours, some controlling increased traffic. Others will be keeping an eye on anything suspicious inside or outside the stores.
“You look for people looking through cars, people milling around,” said Lt. Ryan Grimsdale.
Grimsdale said there are also security plans they do not talk about, including undercover efforts.
“Just that feeling, that level of security that’s necessary to number one, make people feel safe, but more importantly and number two, make sure they are safe,” Grimsdale said.
That feeling of safety is appreciated by shoppers like Gloria Monahan.
“You hear something every day. You’re even afraid to go out whether it’s Black Friday or whatever night,” Monahan said.
And in the unlikely threat of violence, deputies are ready.
“Obviously it is something given the times we live in, we’re a little more cognizant of it, but so are the average citizens, it’s on their minds as well,” Grimsdale said.
Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
In fact, Grimsdale said the more cognizant public helps deputies do their job, especially when people report anything suspicious they see, or take extra precaution to deter crime.
“The biggest key to that: be aware of your surroundings. Know what's going on. Try to pay attention. Cell phones, distractions, those things. As you’re walking to your car, just be aware, have your keys in your hand,” said Grimsdale.
That also includes keeping valuables out of view in your car, preferably locked up in the trunk.
“Try to plan your shopping essentially so you don’t go get that big ticket item that’s going to have to sit in the back of your car all day because most crimes are crimes of opportunity,” Grimsdale said.
As you head out shopping, remember that parking lots are going to be packed, so pack your patience as well and don’t fight other drivers for a parking spot. It’s a good idea to park in well-lit spots if you are shopping at night or early in the morning.
When inside a store, keep your purse close to your body and wear it across your body instead of on your shoulder. If your purse has any open pockets or zippers, wear them facing your body. Also, don’t take your money out until you are ready to pay, and keep your receipts so you can monitor your credit card statements.
If you are taking older children to the mall with you who are going to shop on their own, plan a place to meet up and teach them how to ask a police officer or security guard for help if they need it.