"Shop With a Cop" Comes to Wheaton Mall
Officers detailed to shopping areas to provide extra security, reminders about thefts from cars.
The parking lot around Westfield Wheaton mall will be one of six locations around the county where Montgomery County Police will provide extra security and hand out recycleable shopping bags with pedestrian safety messages on them.
Now in its second year, "Shop with a Cop" begins on Friday, November 26th and runs through Thursday Dec. 23rd.
"The program is designed to be a deterrent and to make people feel safer," said 4th District Community Services Officer Sharif Hidayat.
In addition to handing out the reflective, recyclable bags police will be sending reminders to shoppers to be more aware of how they store their new purchases.
"We're doing an anti-theft campaign," Hidayat said, "We're looking into cars – but not touching the cars - to see if valuables are visible."
Police will send the car owner a postcard to remind them that theft from vehicles is the most common crime in Montgomery County, and suggesting how residents can try to prevent thefts from their car or truck.
"People don't think – they're in a rush to get their shopping done and don't think it could happen to them," Hidayat said, adding that the increased presence will hopefully deter crimes in what police call "a target-rich environment."
Police also hope to improve pedestrian safety in busy parking lots in addition to deterring crime.
Shopping related safety tips include:
- Pedestrians should never assume that drivers can see them. Nor should drivers assume that pedestrians see them as they look for a parking space and enter and exit parking spaces.
- Pedestrians should dress in a highly visible manner, especially when shopping after dark.
- Don't be too distracted by your shopping, stay alert and be aware of everything around you at all times.
- Park in well-lighted spaces and as close to the mall or store as possible.
- Lock your car doors, and hide packages in the trunk on under the seats.
- Don't carry large amounts of cash and pay with a check or credit card if possible.
- Make sure that you are not encumbered with a large number of packages. Make trips back to the car to stow them in the trunk as you continue to shop.
- Carry your closed purse as close to your body as possible, not dangling by the straps.
- Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.