By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

Now that the traditional Christmas shopping season is under way, security personnel of stores and malls want to remind folks that though 'tis the season for great deals at your favorite stores, there are criminals who shop the area, too.

Hal Schiffman, general manager of the Killeen Mall, said Friday that he and his security staff do their best to make the big shopping season as convenient and free of hassle as any other day.

"Our shoppers' convenience and safety are of a continuing high priority to us," Schiffman said. "On a big day like this, we always review our procedures; however, we never publicly comment on them. We ensure that we have adequate staffing, we ensure our procedures are reviewed, and clear on."

Although Friday is the largest shopping day of the year nationwide, Schiffman said that at least for Killeen, the additional shoppers don't create too much of a hassle for the mall's operations.

"It's certainly one of the biggest (shopping days), but a big tax-free weekend is just as challenging," he said. "This is a significant day because we typically become much more aggressive in terms of operating schedules – we open earlier, we typically have more stores that are running pretty aggressive sales, so it appeals to a much broader base of shopper. This is a universally attractive day to people."

So while a tax-free weekend might appeal to more back-to-school shoppers, this weekend appeals to anyone going Christmas shopping. And it is this time of the year that security personnel most ardently prepare for.

"Public safety is really always preparing for this kind of event," Schiffman said. "This is what they staff for, what they train for, and we look for everybody to have a fun, safe shopping experience."

The Killeen Mall works with the Killeen Police Department in attempting to maintain that experience, such as working with police to coordinate traffic flow when accidents occur.

"A lack of free flow in the traffic is going to be an inconvenience only magnified by the volume of people trying to move from one place to another," Schiffman said. "There is a great deal of cross-shopping that occurs today because strategic and savvy shoppers have their plan mapped out depending on who's got the best deals. So they have their route covered. And as the day wears on, we realize people's tolerance has been tried, so we have to take that into account, too."

The Killeen Police Department works with the Killeen Mall in providing safety tips for shoppers during the holiday season. Some of these are:

Always lock your vehicle doors.

Always put valuables out of sight, such as in the trunk or on your person.

Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a situation, report it immediately.

Mall security is always available for escorts to your vehicle.

Do not carry more cash or valuables than necessary.

Take extra precautions with your wallet or purse.

Allow for darkness. It gets dark early this time of year, so be sure to factor this into your plans.

Instruct children on holiday safety measures.

Do not buy more than you could easily carry. If you struggle to carry all your packages, you are an easy mark for a thief.

Be aware of people who bump into you in stores, on the street, or on the bus. Be aware of who is around you when you use an ATM machine.

Contact Justin Cox at or call (254) 501-7568

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