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Metairie, La. -- Shopping malls are bustling with shoppers eager to scratch off those final gifts off their lists, and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office wants to make sure shoppers are safe.
"I'm finished as of this moment, so I'm very happy," said Donna Barry as she walked through Lakeside Mall.
The Olvey family was wrapping up their gift hunting at Lakeside as well. "We had a list, we took one full day, got everything. One thing we couldn't find in the right size so we came back today," said Brooke Olvey.
And the young are equally involved in the down-to-the-wire shopping. ''We just bought this infant baby Jesus necklace," said a elementary school-aged boy.
Lakeside Mall officials are thrilled with the shopping frenzy.
"Very busy, parking lots are full," said Lakeside Mall spokesman David Colomb.
Colomb said the Black Friday weekend benchmarks were met, and he said this final weekend before Christmas is expected to be huge. Lakeside also has extended hours.
Clearview Mall was reporting brisk business, as well. And outside both malls, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office has mobile command units and other crimefighting apparatus.
"Some of the officers will be patrolling in that same general area, especially in the shopping centers with their overhead lights," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato.
Not all officers will be so obvious, though. "You'll see police officers in plain clothes riding in unmarked vehicles with probably dashboard lights," continued Fortunato.
And given the recent headlines about gun violence in other parts of the country, shoppers we spoke with seem to appreciate having the Sheriff's Office on site.
"I feel secure," said a female heading into Clearview Mall.
Fortunato said there have not been any major problems reported.
"Our holiday period, thank God, so far has been very quiet. We have our typical little shoplifting incidents, a couple of chases as a result of people running out of stores," he said.
Fortunato said personal vigilance also goes a long way. "Usually at this time of year we start to see little trends where we have some vehicle burglaries that occur, people get a little relaxed, it's the holiday period, they don't stop to think of safety, you know. There's always safety in numbers -- travel in groups," he said.
He said shoppers should keep their guard up when leaving shopping areas: "Have your keys in your hand, don't be fumbling around because if there's some would-be guy in the neighborhood who wants to use you as a victim and you make yourself an easy target, chances are you'll be an easy target."
Fortunato said shoppers should always place their packages inside their trunks or hide them with coverings, and be sure to lock vehicles.
"Don't be alarmed occasionally if you look out your window or you're riding down the highway and you suddenly see one of our aerial units flying around with spotlights. That's just to let people know we want them to feel secure as they go about their shopping," said Fortunato.
Both Lakeside and Clearview have more information about attractions and shopping hours on their websites.
Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:07 AM EDT2014-09-02 14:07:52 GMT
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