Fort Smith Police Side With Shoppers To Keep Thieves Away

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Police are patrolling to curtail vehicle break-ins while shoppers are in Central Mall and other popular shopping destinations.

"In the past, we`ve had people go to cars and just pull the door handles all the way up and down that row... if you see somebody doing that we definitely need a call," Cpl. Tony Rice, public information officer for the Fort Smith Police Department, said.

Fort Smith Police Chief Nathaniel Clark started "Inside Out", an initiative to help shoppers feel safe and secure, as a result of break-in increases during holiday months.

Police presence will increase at high-traffic commercial areas, which include Central Mall, Walmart locations and the Fort Smith Pavilion -- to name a few. Other locations will be determined through data analysts.

Officers will be in marked and unmarked vehicles.

The initiative began Thanksgiving Day, and will stop during the end of December.

Police offer the following safety tips to shoppers:

1. Place all valuables out of site or in the trunk of your vehicle.
2. Shop with a group if possible. There is safety in numbers.
3. Make sure that your doors are locked.
4. Park in a well-lit area if shopping at night.
5. Be aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting your vehicle.

"If you have an SUV, cover the gifts up... just keep them out of sight," Rice said.