APD increases patrols at malls for holiday season

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Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

With the high volume of shoppers and the low costs on price tags, the current holiday season — from Black Friday to New Year’s Eve — will draw in more customers throughout Austin than in previous years, according to the Austin Police Department.

 APD is increasing the number of patrolling officers to help ease safety concerns caused by the increase in shoppers at area malls during this peak shopping time..

“In general, we have a spike in vehicle burglaries and purse-snatchings during [this] time of year when everyone’s out shopping,” APD detective Ken Cassady said. “It’s something we really do every year. We put more people out in the mall, we put out a lot of [public service announcements] on how to handle yourself, carry yourself, where to put your stuff, how to cover it up … stuff like that.”

According to Cassady, officers are told to look out for warning signs of suspicious behavior, such as “people who are not getting out of their cars, pacing around the parking lot and not going into the mall” during busy days like Black Friday.

Aerospace engineering senior Francisca Jaramillo, who went shopping at the Domain for Black Friday, said she didn’t see the large amount of customers everyone warned her about leading up to the holiday.

“It wasn’t really crazy,” Jaramillo said. “You could definitely see an increase of people around, but there weren’t many long lines or anything like that. From friends, I’ve heard it can get really crazy, but I’ve never experienced it before.”

Jaramillo also said the lack of sales offering more than 25 percent off might have kept some customers away and sent them to other area malls such as Barton Creek.

Nursing freshman Sally Kwon, who went shopping on Black Friday at Lakeline Mall in Cedar Park, said she went to a smaller mall this year because of problems associated with the large number of shoppers and messed up displays she's experienced before.

“Some people will get out of control because they think they’re getting a little better deal than normally,” Kwon said. “They go crazy for a toaster they don’t need because it’s like $10 off.”

Although she didn’t see as many shoppers at the Domain as at other malls, Jaramillo believes the increased number of officers will be beneficial to busier malls throughout the holiday season.

“Obviously having more officers will ensure safety,” Jaramillo said. “The Domain already tends to be a super safe area. You do see more patrolling, and more people will be getting their Christmas stuff and getting their shopping done.”