IMPD patrolling malls, shopping centers with last-minute shoppers

INDIANAPOLIS - The last-minute shoppers won't be alone the final weekend before Christmas when they're finishing their list. IMPD officers will be around shopping centers to help thwart off thieves.

According to IMPD spokesperson, Sgt. Chris Wilburn, the department began patrols around Thanksgiving and continued during shopping hours with large crowds.

"We don’t want people to become victims of crime," Wilburn said.

Police can be spotted walking, biking and driving around mall parking lots across the city beginning Friday night. Most of their work will be out in the open, as they chat with shoppers about protecting their purchases or leaving safety information on their vehicles about preventing anyone from seeing something inside a vehicle that would make a potential thief break-in.

"You’re also seeing people wearing plain clothes," said Wilburn. "You may not see them, but we can identify them.”

Wilburn offered several tips for last-minute shoppers and anyone traveling with gifts over the next few days. They include:

  • Keep items hidden from sight in your vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit areas and try to shop with a friend.
  • Keep travel plans off of social media until returning home.
  • Let your neighbors know you're leaving and how they can contact you if they notice something suspicious.
  • Wrapped gifts while traveling to see family should remain hidden in your vehicle.

"Eye contact makes people uncomfortable," said Wilburn. "Someone may say, they paid attention to my physical description, and you’ll be less inclined to be a victim of a crime. That’s a simple thing to do to stop that kind of thing from happening."

Wilburn said all those tips are part of a plan police would like to see people have when it comes to holiday shopping and safety.

The plan doesn't end Christmas morning either. Empty boxes and packaging should be thrown away in a way that will keep people from knowing what new items you have inside, making someone less likely to break-in.

Wilburn said Indianapolis residents can reach police on their non-emergency line if an officer is needed at 317-327-3811.

"We are out here," said Wilburn. "We have a lot of different assets in place, and we want people to have fun, enjoy the holidays, and more importantly, be safe.”

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