Holiday Security Tips for Malls or Outdoor Shopping Areas

Holiday Security Tips for Malls or Outdoor Shopping Areas

The holiday shopping season is here, let’s not forget that we are in COVID-19 pandemic and health officials continue to repeat their messages about the importance of masks, adequate social distancing, and frequent handwashing.

However, millions of people will be heading to the nation's shopping malls or outdoor shopping areas focused on finding the perfect gifts, but crime is not taking a holiday. Police departments across the country report increased calls during the holiday season when shoppers tend to think less about holiday shopping safety and more about buying presents.

FBI Crime Clock:

  • Property crime occurrence every 4.6 seconds
  • One larceny-theft every 6.2 seconds
  • One motor vehicle theft every 43.8 seconds
  • One robbery every 2.0 minutes

Shopping malls, both indoor and outdoor, safety is especially important this holiday season when they are more vulnerable to violent crime. It is never possible to completely eliminate the risk of violence, but being aware of your surroundings and choosing to shop at malls or outdoor shopping areas that take security seriously are important things you can do to help protect yourself and your family against violence while shopping this season.

To help make shopping at the mall or outdoor shopping areas safer for you and your family, I recommend the following tips.

  • Park in a well-lit area as close to your destination as possible. Parking lots and structures are typically the most dangerous places at the mall. If you are shopping alone and feel uncomfortable walking to your car at night, ask mall security officers for an escort. Consider valet parking during the holiday season when many malls offer free or reduced-price valet parking.
  • Look for security cameras and try to park near them. Also, opt for walkways leading to malls and parking lots that have security cameras installed.
  • Choose to do your holiday shopping at malls or outdoor malls that take security seriously. Shopping destinations with regular mall security patrols and visible surveillance cameras provide an added layer of security and a deterrent to criminals.
  • Avoid using restrooms that are tucked away in a back area of a mall or department store. If you can, find a restroom near the mall's food court or other well-trafficked area and always accompany your child.
  • Do not overload yourself with packages. Thieves are always on the lookout for people who might be distracted. Keep track of your packages and try to stay off your cell phone. Hold your purse close to your body or use a front pocket if carrying a wallet.
  • Always know where the closest exits are located. In case of a fire, active shooter or other emergency, make sure you can find the nearest exits and remember to avoid using elevators in an emergency.
  • Take extra care when returning to your car. If you notice anyone suspicious in the parking area turn around and go back into the store. Remember you can use your keys as a weapon. If needed, you can also use your car alarm system by pushing the panic button on your alarm remote control or car horn to draw attention.
  • Remember in the event of an active shooter situation “Run, Hide, Fight.”
  • Run. Getting away from the attacker is the top priority. Leave your belongings behind and get away.
  • Hide. If you cannot evacuate, cover and hide. Find a place to hide out of view of the attacker, and if possible, put a solid barrier between yourself and the threat.
  • Fight. Fight only as a last resort. When you cannot run or cover, attempt to disrupt the attack or disable the attacker. Be aggressive and commit to your actions. Recruit others to ambush the attacker with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors or books.

Being extra vigilant this holiday season will help keep you from becoming a crime victim. Always trust your instincts and report any and all suspicious activity to shopping mall security officers or your local law enforcement.

About the Author

Patrick V. Fiel, Sr. is a national security consultant. He has over 35 years of experience managing law enforcement and security organization. He has served as the Public Safety Advisor for a large security integrator, Executive Director of Security for the Washington, D.C. Public School System, and is retired from the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. He can be reached at (910) 789-4265 or at pvfiel@gmail.com.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Busy South Africa Building Integrates Custom Access Control System

    Nicol Corner, based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, South Africa, is home to a six-star fitness club, prime office space, and an award-winning rooftop restaurant. This is the first building in South Africa to have its glass façade fully incorporate fritted glazing, saving 35% on energy consumption. Nicol Corner (Pty) LTD has developed a landmark with sophisticated design and unique architecture by collaborating with industry-leading partners and specifying world-class equipment throughout the project. This includes installing a high-spec, bespoke security and access control system. Read Now

  • Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

    A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions. Read Now

  • Survey: 70 Percent of Organizations Have Established Dedicated SaaS Security Teams

    Seventy percent of organizations have prioritized investment in SaaS security, establishing dedicated SaaS security teams, despite economic uncertainty and workforce reductions. This was a key finding in the fourth Annual SaaS Security Survey Report: 2025 CISO Plans and Priorities released today by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining standards, certifications, and best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • ResponderLink

    ResponderLink

    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden Door Controls is pleased to announce that, in response to soaring customer demand, it has expanded its range of ValueWave™ no-touch switches to include a narrow (slimline) version with manual override. This override button is designed to provide additional assurance that the request to exit switch will open a door, even if the no-touch sensor fails to operate. This new slimline switch also features a heavy gauge stainless steel faceplate, a red/green illuminated light ring, and is IP65 rated, making it ideal for indoor or outdoor use as part of an automatic door or access control system. ValueWave™ no-touch switches are designed for easy installation and trouble-free service in high traffic applications. In addition to this narrow version, the CM-221 & CM-222 Series switches are available in a range of other models with single and double gang heavy-gauge stainless steel faceplates and include illuminated light rings. 3

  • EasyGate SPT and SPD

    EasyGate SPT SPD

    Security solutions do not have to be ordinary, let alone unattractive. Having renewed their best-selling speed gates, Cominfo has once again demonstrated their Art of Security philosophy in practice — and confirmed their position as an industry-leading manufacturers of premium speed gates and turnstiles. 3