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CPSO aims to keep shoppers safe and deter crime this holiday season

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office implements their Annual Robbery Prevention Mobilization
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 9:34 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is helping shoppers stay safe this holiday season. They have implemented their Annual Robbery Prevention Mobilization in an effort to deter crime and assist shoppers in the parking lot.

”We’re there, we’re visible and we’re there for the public’s help,” Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso.

The sheriff’s office is helping ensure shoppers are safe this holiday season. They have rolled out their annual robbery prevention mobilization at Prien Lake Mall.

“Basically, it’s to prevent crime before it happens,” said Mancuso. “To have a large presence and to make sure that we’re very visible and seen so that we can prevent something before it starts.”

Deputies will be on marked ATVs and patrol cars as well as manning the CPSO Mobile Command Center in the parking lot of the mall near the intersection of Prien Lake and Ernest Street.

“It’s a big deterrent. And to make people feel comfortable coming to the shopping centers around town and shopping,” CPSO Commander of Special Services Matt Vezinot said.

The deputies are available to help with anything to ensure shoppers are safe.

“We’ve helped people that can’t start their car get their car started and walked them to their car when it gets dark,” Mancuso said.

Deputies who will be wearing orange sheriff’s office traffic vests during the evening hours will be available to assist shoppers with such things as helping them find their car, jump-starting their car if the battery is dead, changing a flat, assisting employees and shoppers by walking them to their car after dark, or any other assistance they can provide.

This time of year usually presents a spike in crimes like theft, especially with shoppers leaving items in their cars. Vezinot says there are some things you can do to ensure you’re not a victim.

“These opportunistic people come around here and they’ll drive through the parking lot looking for those things,” Vezinot sait. “So, if you’re gonna keep things in your car, cover them up so they’re not visible through the windows.”

Some other tips Vezinot and Mancuso gave are:

  • Shop with a group.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed with packages.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
  • Ensure you remember where you park and enter the shopping center so you are not wandering around.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.

“If you feel uncomfortable, hey, flag us down, and we’ll follow you to your vehicle, make sure you get in, that’s what we’re here for,” Vezinot said.

Vezinot said you can also alert mall security if you are feeling unsafe. The deputies have a radio with constant communication with mall security and will be able to assist. You can also call the Sheriff’s office if needed, and they will alert deputies and assist you.

The Robbery Prevention Mobilization will be stationed at the Prien Lake mall every day from 10 a.m. until an hour after the mall closes. The extra hour gives deputies time to ensure employees are safe in the parking lot after the mall closes.

It will continue through December 26.

CPSO deputies are not hired by the mall nor will they be doing security for the mall. They are also volunteering to work this special detail to provide assistance to the public during the busy holiday season, as a way to give back to the community.

Deputies will also be conducting regular visits to all convenience stores in the parish during the holiday season to check with store clerks to see if they are experiencing any problems or if they have any special needs.

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