TUPELO – While shoppers are gearing up for the madness that is Black Friday, so are criminals.
Every year thousands of people pile in their vehicles before daybreak, some still in their pajamas, in pursuit of good deals.
But one of the biggest buying days of the year is often a major challenge for law enforcement, and it kicks off a season-long police effort to deter crime in shopping areas.
The Tupelo Police Department kicks off its Operation Safe Holiday on Black Friday, with an emphasis on the North Gloster Street area. Tupelo Police Maj. Anthony Hill said a command post will be set up in the mall parking lot, while bike and foot patrols and a safety booth will be placed inside the mall.
“We want people to help police and take the proper precautions to protect themselves,” said Hill. “Lock your doors, put things you buy in the trunk and make sure you park in a visible area. These things are not 100 percent crime-proof, but they will decrease your chances of becoming a victim.”
Hill said criminals will roam parking lots looking for easy scores.
Susan Wright said she was a victim of holiday theft last year when she made the trip from Corinth to Tupelo to join in on the Black Friday shopping frenzy.
Wright said someone broke into her car and stole a lot of the bargain buys. This year, she’s handling things a little bit differently.
“I guess I left my door unlocked last year but I can assure you that’s not going to happen again,” Wright said while doing some early shopping. “An officer told me that I was also in a bad parking spot away from everyone else and that could have made me an easy target, so this year I’ll try to get as close to stores or at least other shoppers as possible.
“I came to enjoy a good shopping day and left with a police report. Not my idea of a good start to a holiday shopping season.”
Police also will be out in force Friday and the helicopter will be used to help with traffic control.
But Maj. Jackie Clayton said safety starts with drivers.
“Be patient and be nice,” said Clayton. “That’s the best thing everyone can do to make things run smoothly. It’s going to be crowded and things are going to move slowly. So everyone just drive defensively.”
Operation Safe Holiday runs through the first week in January.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal