Heightened police presence at malls week of Thanksgiving

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Don’t let the excitement of great holiday deals distract you so much that you let your guard down while shopping. Miami-Dade Police officers, both uniformed and undercover, will be out and about this week for the safety of holiday shoppers.

Miami-Dade Police officers were at Dadeland Mall, Monday, to launch their annual “Grinchbuster” detail, which they do every year.

7News cameras captured Miami-Dade Police Officer Javier Aluart on patrol in the parking lot of Dadeland Mall in Kendall, Monday. “We look to every aisle to make sure nothing is going on and everybody is safe,” he said.

Officers in uniform and in plain clothes will be at malls across Miami-Dade County to keep an eye on things while shoppers score some great deals. “We are deploying additional personnel to the malls, like we do every single year, in collaboration with mall security,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez. “We will have heightened uniform presence, bike uniforms and undercover officers in the malls.”

All this presence is because, during this time of year, those on Santa’s naughty list are looking to take advantage of distracted or careless holiday shoppers. “These are the parking garages that we’ll be patrolling with bikes,” said Aluart.

Additional officers will be in and around shopping malls — on foot, on bikes and in patrol units — scoping out easy targets before the bad guys have a chance to make a move. “That’s something that we look for because the criminals, they target cars that have packages,” said Aluart.

Officers will also be on the lookout for suspicious activity, knowing that places where many gather can be targets for terror. “We have the international threats and how they influence us here domestically, so we have tactical units that will be deployed in a form of a special response team or K-9 units that detect explosives,” Perez said.

Police advise shoppers to be smart and vigilant of their surroundings at all times while shopping and parking at major malls, such as Dadeland Mall, Dolphin Mall, Mall of the Americas, Aventura Mall, Sawgrass Mills Mall, The Falls and the Shops of Merrick Park.

If you see something that seems suspicious, make sure to call police or notify mall security immediately.

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