CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Town Center Mall is a place many families share Christmas memories from the Black Friday shopping to seeing Santa Claus.

No shopper should have to worry about theft while gathering those memories. The Charleston Police Department under the direction of Police Chief Steve Cooper is making sure that the mall and surrounding areas are safe and joyful atmospheres this holiday shopping season.

Cooper announced Wednesday at a press conference inside the mall that there will be an extra law enforcement presence not only at the mall, but business districts across the city.

“During the shopping season we are going to have a very heavy police presence in the mall,” he said. “You’ll see uniformed police officers at all portions and sections of the Town Center. We are actually going to have undercover investigators working in some of the parking garages to look out for people breaking into cars and things like that.

“Public safety is our main concern. We feel very good about the atmosphere at the Town Center especially with as much police presence as we are going to have at the Town Center.”

One of the main concerns for shoppers in past years is leaving valuables in their car while they continue to shop. Cooper added that while they will have an undercover presence in the parking garages, anyone is encouraged to ask a uniformed officer to escort them to their car if they feel uncomfortable.

Cooper shared a few tips for shoppers that are worried about car theft.

“Just don’t leave things visible in your vehicle no matter where you are parking,” he said. “Whether it is the mall or another shopping center. We recommend you put items in the trunk or out of sight, and lock your doors.”

According to Cooper, this is a joint operation by the Town Center and Charleston PD. He said the Town Center is paying for private security with Charleston Police Officers and the city itself is beefing up its regular presence at the mall.

Cooper said while they provide extra police in the mall every year, this year is a little different.

“We will have additional officers this year though and that is because we have more police officers on staff,” he said. “We have 10 more officers than we had this time last year. The numbers that we have as far as being fully staffed has allowed us to provide extra protection to not just the Town Center but extra business districts as well.”

Numbers of citations given out at the Town Center Mall are down, the last time the department checked. However, Cooper said this is the time of the year when people need to be vigilant.

“During the Christmas season, there is more theft around the world. That is just an unfortunate reality of the Christmas season. With so many shoppers here, we will have a significant police presence and anticipate a very safe and quiet shopping season.”

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