From a Mesilla Valley Mall News Release:
Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping season and Mesilla Valley Mall (MVM) in Las Cruces, NM intends to provide a safe environment for shoppers.
“We want everyone who visits MVM to know that security officers are on duty and that they can shop at the mall in safety,” said MVM General Manager Loretta Pina. “As many as four security officers are on duty during regular mall hours.”
According to Pina, security officers also provide after-hours security for the mall.
Pina says she contracts with Valor Tactical Group (VTG) in Las Cruces for security officer services. Edward Villareal, founder of VTG, says the primary duty of the security officers is to be visible and to act as a deterrent to criminal activity. Villareal says officers at the mall receive level one training under state of New Mexico guidelines.
“The annual training includes a combination of classroom and scenario-based training,” he says. Included are communication techniques, laws regarding robbery and shoplifting, appropriate use of force, de-escalation techniques, detention authority, trespass laws, evidence identification, identifying participants and witnesses and report writing.
According to Villareal, “Mall officers receive double the training as required by state law.”
The Las Cruces Police Department is encouraging shoppers to follow basic safety tips this holiday season.
- Shop with a friend. You are less vulnerable when shopping as a couple or small group.
- Do not leave personal electronics, valuables, merchandise or wrapped gifts visible in a vehicle. Conceal those items in a trunk or take them home before continuing to shop.
- Roll up windows and lock doors when leaving your vehicle unattended.
According to LCPD, crimes of opportunity – including auto burglaries when vehicles are left unlocked and unattended – tend to increase this time of year.
- Do not overburden yourself by carrying too many bags or packages at one time – especially in darkened or busy parking lots.
- Avoid setting a purse, cell phone and other personal property in a shopping cart.
- Carry a purse close to your body or consider carrying only a wallet in a front pocket.
- When possible, pay for items with a credit or debit card to avoid having to carry large amounts of cash while shopping.
- Have automobile keys ready, in hand, prior to leaving the store.
- If shopping after dark, park in a well-lit area and near the storefront.
- Another good parking option is to park near the shopping cart return “corral,” so you can unload merchandise and return the cart without walking across a large parking lot.
- Do not hesitate to ask store security for an escort to your vehicle.
- Tell a friend or relative where you are going and when you’re expected to return.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Call police immediately if you notice suspicious activity or feel your safety is in danger.
“A safe, secure, and comfortable environment is what we strive for here at MVM. So, it’s important that visitors to the mall are aware of the security services we provide not just during the holidays, but year ‘round,” Pina says.
Pina encourages mall visitors in need of security assistance to call mall security at 575/551-2445.