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Shoppers, Police Saddle Up for Tough Trips to the Malls

Times Staff Writer

On your mark, get set . . . shop!

The day-after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy will be a “mess, I don’t know what else to call it,” Santa Ana Police Lt. Greg Cooper said Thursday. But throughout Orange County, the malls--and the police--are ready for it.

At MainPlace mall in Santa Ana this year, officers are trying something new: patrolmen on horseback.

“They’ll keep an eye on the parking lots because you can anticipate an increase in thefts from autos and purse snatchings,” Cooper said. “The officers are a lot more visible that way, and visibility is a deterrent right there by itself. It makes people feel a lot safer too.”

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The mounted patrol is a joint effort of the mall and the Police Department that focuses on the mall parking lot. As for traffic on surrounding streets, officers will “play it by ear and see how bad it gets,” Cooper said.

‘Christmas Mall Duty’

In Westminster too, the Police Department has a joint agreement with the Westminster Mall for extra patrols during holiday shopping season.

“We do have what we call our Christmas mall duty from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas,” Westminster Police Lt. Richard Main said. “There’s usually more activity, more thefts inside the mall. There are a lot of good people who come for the shopping, but unfortunately a few bad people too.”

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Two Westminster officers will be on duty inside the mall and another will patrol the parking lot, keeping the fire lanes clear and enforcing parking rules.

“The officers dread (the day after Thanksgiving) just like the shoppers do,” Main said. “It can get real hectic out there. But they’re all working overtime so they get a few extra bucks for their Christmas shopping.”

In Costa Mesa, Police Sgt. Tom Winter said, South Coast Plaza today becomes “a high-priority area for us. We send a couple of extra motorcycle officers over there because they’re usually the ones who can move around the easiest in the traffic.

“We get a lot of pedestrian violations this time of year and we’re usually worried about people being injured.”


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