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SkyWatch to keep shoppers safe

SkyWatch to keep shoppers safe

CLEARWATER, Fla. (970 WFLA) -- The Clearwater Police Department and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office are teaming up to keep an eye on the thousands of shoppers expected to swarm Westfield Countryside Mall on Black Friday and Saturday.

The two agencies are joining forces to keep shoppers safe from a perch high above the parking lot on the south side of the mall across near BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse.

The Sheriff's Office has deployed SkyWatch, a two-story mobile surveillance tower that will house a Clearwater police officer and a deputy. The tower will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Members of the media will be allowed to obtain video or still images from the tower from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday.

Plenty of Clearwater Police officers also will be on duty on the ground at Westfield Countryside Mall and at other popular shopping destinations in the city. They will be trying to keep the parking lots and nearby streets safe as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

The enhanced Clearwater Police presence is to detect and deter potential criminal activity at the mall and other locations. Officers also will be handing out pamphlets with safety tips.

Here are a few tips for the busy shopping season:

++ Report any suspicious activity to mall security or police officers.

++ Do not keep any packages where they are visible in your car. Keep

++ them

locked in your trunk out of sight.

++ As you walk to the car from the store, observe your surroundings

constantly, especially when you exit the store. Don't have your arms so full of packages that your view all around you is obstructed.

++ There is power in numbers. You are less likely to become a crime

++ victim if

you are not alone.

++ Have your car keys in your hand as you approach the car to speed up

++ the

time it takes you to get inside. Carrying your cell phone in your hand is also a good idea.

++ Always park in well-lit areas at night.

++ Be wary of any stranger approaching you in the parking lot.

Besides Westfield Countryside Mall, Clearwater Police will also be out in force at Clearwater Mall, the Wal-Mart at U.S. 19 and State Road 590, the Best Buy at U.S. 19 and Drew Street and Sunset Point Plaza at U.S. 19 and Sunset Point Road.

Photo credit City of Clearwater


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