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Oklahoma City police warn shoppers to be aware during holidays

People soon will flock to malls for the holiday shopping, and that means even more targets for criminals looking for prey, Oklahoma City police say.
by Juliana Keeping Published: October 29, 2012

A woman chatting on her cellphone while walking to her car has the phone grabbed out of her hand by a robber at Quail Springs Mall.

A knife-wielding robber confronts a man in the Crossroads Mall parking lot. The driver jumps out of his vehicle, leaving his keys in the ignition. The thief takes the car.

An employee on her way to work at Penn Square Mall is groped in the mall's parking garage.

These crimes were among hundreds that occurred at Oklahoma City malls during the first eight months of the year, police department records revealed.

People soon will flock to malls for the holiday shopping, and that means even more targets for criminals looking for prey, Oklahoma City police say.

“It's important to note there's a lot more potential targets, potential victims when it's holiday shopping season,” Master Sgt. Gary Knight said.

The vast majority of crimes at the three malls so far this year entailed the theft of merchandise. But there were assaults and crimes such as purse snatchings and auto thefts. Mall security personnel and police also had to deal with combative and belligerent customers and the occasional drunk patron.

In June, a woman accused of hiding almost $1,000 in clothes she did not pay for in two bags took a swing at an Oklahoma County sheriff's deputy who had stopped her at Penn Square Mall, 1901 Northwest Expressway.

The woman groped in that mall's garage Aug. 5 told police a man followed her to the stairwell and grabbed her under her dress before running away. Police tracked the suspect to an Oklahoma City home using his license plate number, which was reported by a witness who saw a man acting suspiciously and followed his vehicle out of the garage. Police arrested Alex Altamirano, 42, of Oklahoma City, at the residence, on a complaint of sexual battery.

Safety plans

Mall officials were reluctant to discuss public safety plans. Asked for interviews, managers at two malls released statements instead.

Quail Springs Mall, 2501 W Memorial Road, has a customized public safety program, according to a statement released by Kelly Waswo, senior general manager.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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