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“Shop with a Cop” Initiative Returns for Second Holiday Season | Community Spirit

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“Shop with a Cop” Initiative Returns for Second Holiday Season

For the second year, Montgomery County Police are able to offer the holiday safety initiative, “Shop with a Cop.”  It begins the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 26, and runs through Thursday, December 23.  It was developed to help increase the safety of shoppers, pedestrians, and drivers in the county during this active holiday season.

            Officers in all six of the Montgomery County police districts will be detailed to shopping areas in their districts to provide high visibility, extra security, and to provide reminders about driving and pedestrian safety--especially in parking lots.  Officers will be distributing approximately 5000 bright green reflective and recyclable shopping bags with a driver and pedestrian safety message printed on them.  In some locations these bags will also be distributed by shop owners.

Each year from 2008 through September of 2010, 19% or 20% of reported pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County have occurred in parking lots.  Drivers and pedestrians need to watch out for one another.  This will be a particularly hectic time in parking lots serving shopping areas.  Most shoppers come to parking lots as drivers, park, become pedestrians, shop, and then return to being drivers for the commute home.

  • Pedestrians should never assume that drivers can see them.  Nor should drivers assume that pedestrians see them as they look for a parking space and enter and exit parking spaces.
  • Pedestrians should dress in a highly visible manner, especially when shopping after dark.

The following are tips to follow while shopping and when walking to shopping areas:

When shopping: 

  • Don’t be too distracted by your shopping, stay alert and be aware of everything around you at all times.
  • Park in well-lighted spaces and as close to the mall or store as possible.
  • Lock your car doors, and hide packages in the trunk on under the seats.  Theft from vehicle is the most common crime in Montgomery County.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash and pay with a check or credit card if possible.
  • Make sure that you are not encumbered with a large number of packages.  Make trips back to the car to stow them in the trunk as you continue to shop.
  • Carry your closed purse as close to your body as possible, not dangling by the straps.
  • Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.

When out walking:

  • Wherever you are, on the street, in an office building, or shopping mall, waiting for a bus or the subway, stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
  • Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.
  • Stick to well-lighted and well-traveled streets.  Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Don’t flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street, and walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.

If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist.  Give up your property - don’t endanger your life.  Report the crime to police as soon as possible and try to describe the attacker accurately. Your rapid reporting of the incident may prevent others from becoming victims.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said, “During this busy holiday shopping season the potential for traffic collisions and robberies does increase. I am very pleased that we can once again provide additional officers to provide extra security during this time.  Their distribution of the safety-messaged shopping bags can provide tangible reminders of the critical importance of driving and pedestrian safety.  On behalf of the men and women of the Montgomery County Police Department, let’s not only make this a happy Holiday season, but also a safe one!” 

Locations selected for the Shop with a Cop initiative include:  the Congressional Shopping Center on Rockville Pike in Rockville, the central business district of Bethesda, the central business district of Silver Spring, the Westfield Wheaton Shoppingtown in Wheaton, the Milestone Shopping Center in Germantown, and the Lake Forest Mall, Gaithersburg Square and Off-Price Shopping Center in Gaithersburg.

The Shop with a Cop program and the free shopping bags are primarily funded by revenue raised from Safe Speed automated photo enforcement, which is dedicated to improving public safety in Montgomery County.