By JB Clark
TUPELO – As shoppers descend on the Mall at Barnes Crossing, Downtown Tupelo, Midtown and the many shopping centers in between, law enforcement officials are encouraging shoppers to thwart the auto-burglaries that accompany holiday shopping by employing common sense.
Richard Carleton, security director for The Mall at Barnes Crossing, said the auto burglaries seen in the parking areas around the mall are usually crimes of opportunity and happen when a shopper has left a purse, shopping bags or other valuables on the back seat of their car or somewhere visible. That is when the burglar opens the door or breaks a window.
“We see people leave their cars unlocked, and that makes it too easy,” said Carleton. “We can’t tell if it’s the owners or not if they don’t have to break in, so keep your cars locked.”
Tupelo Police Capt. Rusty Haynes said burglars will break windows to gain access to visible purses and valuables. “If you’re going to leave your purse or valuables on your seat, you’re probably going to have to also replace the glass window in your car,” he said.
Tupelo Police will have a remote headquarters established in the mall parking lot, and mall security will have additional security officers on patrol. Carleton said the increase is not only to help decrease auto-burglaries but to discourage shoplifting, a crime he said he encourages each store to prosecute in each case.
“We’re going to utilize all the man power we can scrounge together to make sure the mall and other choke points, like Walmart, are covered,” Haynes said. “We’ll have plenty of extra units on Thanksgiving evening and Black Friday.”
Carleton said one big thing for everyone to remember is to slow down and pay attention to everyone around them, in the mall and in the parking lot.
“We don’t have wrecks from folks speeding around,” he said. “People get in a hurry, back out of these spots without looking and run into each other.”
He also said not to forget the reason everyone is out shopping in the first place.
“It’s Christmastime, too, so be nice to each other,” he said. “Every year there are people who get testy when they’re shopping. Don’t do that, you’re the one who got up early for Black Friday.”