As holiday bargain hunters prepare to hit the malls for one of the busiest shopping days of the year - Black Friday - police are warning shoppers to be wary of thieves.
Due to the high volume of shoppers expected to be out on Friday, Mesa police plan to step up their presence at the city's two malls: Fiesta Mall and Superstition Springs Mall. As in years past, Mesa police also will set up a command center at Superstition Springs.
In Chandler, the police department's bicycle unit, patrol officers and volunteers will saturate heavy shopping areas around Chandler Fashion Center and Walmart stores.
In Gilbert, a larger police presence of bicycle and patrol officers will be at SanTan Village and at other large retail outlets throughout the town.
"We'll be stepping up our presence in those areas," said Sgt. Mark Marino, a Gilbert police spokesman. "The biggest thing is to be aware of your surroundings and park in well-lit areas and as close to the stores as you can. If you're concerned about your safety, ask a security officer to walk you to your car."
Chandler police urged people who get caught up in the shopping frenzy not to go alone.
"It's always best if you can shop with other people, and not go by yourself," said Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a spokesman for Chandler police. "Always err on the side of caution, and stay alert.
"Don't look down while you're walking, don't be texting, and ladies need to make sure they have a hand on their purse straps. Don't look like a victim; walk with confidence," Favazzo said.
Because of live concert events this week at Queen Creek Marketplace along Rittenhouse and Ellsworth Loop roads, more security guards have been in place, and there also will be a large number working Friday, according to information from the Queen Creek Marketplace security office.
Police also are urging shoppers to keep vehicle doors and windows closed and locked, don't leave packages visible in the car and don't leave purses or wallets unattended in shopping carts for any amount of time.
"For shoppers, we're asking them to simply use good common sense and be aware of their surroundings," said Detective Steve Berry, a spokesman for Mesa police.