CLEARWATER, Fla. — As you’re out grabbing those holiday gifts this weekend, the Clearwater Police Department is bringing in extra patrols to help cut down on crime.
At Countryside Mall, Officer J. Gibson was looking for a different kind of steal on Black Friday.
"We're watching for people who are loitering, mingling in the area, looking into vehicles," Officer Gibson said.
Inside a “skybox”, officers have a birds-eye view of parking lots. They’re on the lookout for thieves going after your recently purchased presents.
While the overhead view is a major advantage, Clearwater Police will also be patrolling by foot, on bikes, and undercover.
They’re also asking customers to shop smart. Officers said the biggest mistake shoppers make is leaving car doors unlocked with bags in plain sight. It’s common sense that people tend to forget.
Another piece of advice — keep your cool. On Thanksgiving, a shooting at a mall in Alabama left a gunman dead and two others hurt.
Police don’t know exactly what led to the shooting, but officers here said no sale is worth risking your safety.
"Let cooler heads prevail. It's OK to walk away and live to argue another day," Sgt. Christian Zarra said.
If you do sense something suspicious, don’t hesitate to call for help.
"Stay vigilant. If something gives you a bad feeling or you start to get uncomfortable with something, that's what we're here for," Officer Gibson said.
Clearwater Police will have enhanced patrols at different shopping centers throughout the holiday shopping season. Other agencies across the Bay Area will be doing the same.