Mall security under scrutiny in wake of Nebraska shooting

by For the MBJ

Published: December 17,2007

With the traffic and hustle and bustle of the holidays, shopping center security is always a concern. But since the recent mall shooting in Nebraska, both shoppers and center managers are more concerned with security than ever.

Audrey Thompson, general manager of Northpark Mall in Ridgeland, said that recent events have put some shoppers on edge.

“We are incredibly saddened by the tragic events that unfolded in Omaha. As we’ve seen far too many times in recent years, this can happen anywhere at any time — at a university in Virginia, a high school in Colorado, a post office, an office building and at factories across town,” Thompson said. “And because the venue for these horrific acts is so random, it is impossible to conclude anything else but that the combination of mentally ill people seeking attention serves as a catalyst for these events, not the place where they are ultimately carried out.”

As a general policy, mall management does not comment on specific security measures the mall implements daily to keep their shoppers safe. “As I’m sure you can understand, we need to keep these measures confidential to help ensure the safety of our facility. But rest assured that the safety and security of our shoppers, retail tenants and employees is and always has been our top priority.”

Thompson offers shoppers several tips to use while doing their holiday shopping. “These are safety tips to assist our customers in shopping safely this season, and beyond. This is a great tool not just while they visit Northpark, but any place that people gather.”

Safety — top of mind

1. When parking, lock your car and take your keys with you.

2. Do not leave valuables in plain view in your car. Lock the valuables and all packages in the trunk.

3. When shopping after dark, ask a friend or family member to accompany you.

4. Park in a well-lit area. Make note of where your car is parked and what mall entrance you use.

5. Have your keys ready in your hand when leaving the shopping center to return to your car.

6. Look inside and under your car before getting inside. Lock your doors promptly.

7. Keep valuables and money in a pocket or small purse with a strap that can be worn across your body.

8. Keep your purse closed and secured. Do not put it down anywhere.

9. Be discreet when paying for merchandise if you are carrying a large sum of cash.

10. Stay alert to what is happening around you. If you notice anything that appears suspicious, report it immediately to mall security or a store employee.

“As the Jackson metro area plunges into the busy holiday shopping season, Northpark Mall encourages all residents to preserve their comfort and joy by using common sense and these safety tips to protect themselves and their valuables while shopping,” Thompson said. “In fact, it’s wise to keep these tips in mind any time throughout the year that large numbers of people gather.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer S.J. Anderson at andersonwrites@yahoo.com .

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