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Police add bike patrols to mall parking lots during holiday shopping season

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 28, 2014) - The holiday shopping season is in full swing but those busy mall parking lots are a prime target for crime. Last week police investigated a series of car break-ins at a popular Indianapolis mall and in the surrounding area.

IMPD officers will work a special overtime detail to patrol mall parking lots on bicycles. The bikes let police maneuver around all the holiday shopping traffic and allow for a unique vantage point.

“We can see above all of the cars and we can see people walking around and we can hear things running, we can see cars running and if somebody’s window does get broken out you can hear that," said Patrolman John Wall with IMPD.

The bike patrols started on Black Friday and run through the entire holiday shopping season. Police will use bikes at The Castleton Square Mall, The Fashion Mall at Keystone and Glendale Town Center. Police say their presence has a powerful deterrent effect.

“We’re looking for people that are just meandering about the parking lot, looking more interested at the cars around them instead of making a beeline for their own personal car, that’s a good indication," said Patrolman Wall.

Police have utilized the holiday bike patrols for about five years. Patrolman Wall, an avid cyclist, came up with the idea because he would spend the first hour or two of his shift responding to vehicle break-ins at the mall. He said the patrols have decreased crime. Wall said during the first year there were no reported vehicle break-ins while the officers were out patrolling on their bikes.

IMPD recently released this list of holiday shopping safety tips:

  • Shop during daylight hours and with a friend
  • If you must shop after dark, park in a well lit location
  • Avoid parking next to vans, trucks or cars with dark tinted windows
  • Do not leave any valuables or packages in the vehicle where they can be seen
  • Lock your car doors
  • Keep control of your wallets and purses, do not leave them unattended
  • To discourage purse-snatches, don’t overburden yourself with packages
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash
  • Be sure to locate your keys before getting to your car
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially while walking to your car