Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 | midnight
Safe Shopper acronym provided by Las Vegas Metro Police South Central Area Command Crime Prevention Specialist Pamela Terry:
Stay Alert. Be aware of what's going on around you.
Always lock car doors.
Firmly hold on to your purse.
Enter and exit through main doors.
Shop in pairs; there is safety in numbers.
Have your car keys ready and do a quick check of the inside of the vehicle before getting in.
Observe your surroundings and leave if something makes you uncomfortable.
Park in well-lighted areas.
Put valuables out of sight. Keep bags and gifts in the trunk.
Expect the unexpected. Never let your guard down.
Remember, Safety First! And Happy Holidays!
Law enforcement at local shopping centers has temporarily been stepped up to discourage would-be criminals during the busy holiday shopping season, Metro Police say.
Officials have also recently given advice on how residents can do their part to ensure the safety of themselves and their valuables this season.
During a news conference Tuesday at the Meadows Mall, Capt. Christopher Darcy of the Northeast Area Command said an increased number of officers, both in and out of uniform, are patrolling busy shopping centers through Dec. 28.
"We're really focused on preventing robberies," he said. "We want the community to feel safe and assured we're there to protect them."
Metro also wants to assure the crooks, or would-be crooks, that they're being watched, he said.
The eyes of officers will also be peeled for thieves trying to burglarize or steal vehicles.
Darcy said bait cars will be used as lures for thieves at various shopping centers around the valley.
Despite an increased police presence, residents will still need to do their part and be vigilant about keeping an eye out for potentially dangerous situations.
"Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings" Darcy said.
When parking, stick to well-lit areas, he said.
Metro also suggests following some classic parental wisdom: there is safety in numbers.
"If possible, shop with someone else," Darcy said.
Darcy said when items have to be left in a vehicle, they should be put out of sight.
The cars that are broken into most often are the ones that have an iPod or cell phone left lying on the seat, he said.
Furthermore, Metro's Silverado-area crime prevention specialist, Pamela Terry, offered a suggestion for shoppers who unload packages in their vehicle and then continue shopping: they should move their vehicle to another area of the parking lot in case they have been watched.
In a situation in which a bag-laden shopper is approached by someone with ill intentions, Darcy said an attempt to flee, find security or get into a well-lit or highly-populated area should be made.
"But if it turns into something, don't fight," he said. "Give up valuables. They can be replaced, human life can't be."
As home burglaries can be an increased concern during the holiday season with thieves well aware that newly wrapped electronics and jewelry are often times piling up under the tree, Metro has also given advice on how to keep your home safe.
Terry recommends resisting the temptation to put the Christmas tree near a window.
"When you see a tree, you're going to see presents," she said. "The economy is so bad if you spend the money to buy presents and wrap them and they look all pretty, you don't want some thug coming in and stealing them."
When it comes time to throw out the box that the big screen TV or computer came in, Terry suggested breaking it down and putting it in a bag so that it cannot be seen.
"Then people driving by don't know what all you got," she said.
The usual safety precautions also come in handy this time of year.
"A lot of times simply adding lighting around the house can deter crime," Darcy said.
"Most importantly, develop a strong sense of community with your neighbors," he said. "Watch out for each other."
Ashley Livingston can be reached at 990-8925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.