RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Police are warning shoppers to be extra vigilant as the busy shopping season is now in full swing.
In a statement, Richmond Heights Police Chief Gerry Rohr said Thursday afternoon in the Galleria Mall parking lot a woman was pushed to the ground while getting in her car, the thief then jumped in her car and took off.
Chief Rohr would not call this a carjacking saying they are investigating this case as a robbery.
Michael Barbieri, a security consultant with Global Intelligence said while we don’t know all the details it’s important to do what you can to stay safe.
“Stay off your phone and don’t text when you leave the store. The most important thing to do is kind of look around, make sure that nobody is following you, make sure nobody's trying to walk into the general direction of your car. Once you get in your car, it's a great idea to lock the car,” Barbieri said.
Barbieri said a lot of problems in shopping center parking lots are crimes of opportunity, urging people to keep things out of sight.
“They call them smash and grabs. So, they walk up to the window, they'll smash the window, open the door, and then they'll look through your glove compartment. They'll look to see if there's, you know, a wallet or a purse somewhere around, grab that and then they leave,” Barbieri said.
Des Peres Police Chief Eric Hall said they have been amping up security at West County Center during the busy shopping season providing two to three officers on site.
“We have recently put in service a firearms detection canine unit, that's simply a dog that detects firearms inside West County Center to make sure that we're doing everything we can to keep the center safe,” Hall said.
Hall said if you see anyone suspicious you can always go back in the mall or store.
You can call security or the police department to walk you out of your vehicle.
"If you're approached at your vehicle, the best thing to do is, unfortunately, to be compliant or get into your vehicle and lock the door as soon as possible and call 911,” Hall said.
Both said it’s also important to park in well-lit areas, avoid dimly lit garages and park as close as you can to the door.
To watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.