By Evan Anderson, News 9
NORMAN, Okla. -- Christmas shoppers only have a few more days to grab those last minute gifts at malls and shopping centers across the area. And more shoppers usually mean extremely busy parking lots and potentially easy targets for a thief looking to pick up some easy presents.
Metro police and security officers at malls across the area plan to keep a close eye on busy parking lots. For a second holiday season, Norman Police are one of the first police departments in the area to roll out a mobile command tower.
From about 25 feet in the air, police in Norman will have a bird's eye view of some of the busiest parking lots in the city.
"Officers will be sitting, standing, and doing surveillance," said Norman Detective Clay Bolin.
Bolin gave News 9 an exclusive look inside the tower he says usually deters opportunist thieves.
"You will be less likely to commit a robbery or some other crime if this thing is sitting a hundred feet away from you," said Bolin.
"I'm glad they're there, because there is a lot of people that do need them, especially when you've got a lot of elderly people out shopping and stuff like that," said last minute shopper David Dodson with his two grandchildren.
"I don't walk around with my cell phone, talking on my cell phone," said shopper Debbie Dries. "Be aware of your surroundings."
Norman Police will watch for people hanging out in parking lots, casing vehicles and other suspicious activity.
In Oklahoma City, area malls are using the same approach. OKC Police say some malls own their own sky towers and mall security has been beefed up to protect the influx of Christmas shoppers.
"We have six kids, so we have a lot to get," said Michele Troutman.
And despite mobile command towers and beefed up security, police still want shoppers to stay vigilant and don't make it easy for thieves.
"Just having gifts in the interior of the car where people can see it, or just not paying attention," said Dries.
One or two officers will staff the tower and assist officers on the ground. The Norman Police tower will spend time at different busy shopping parking lots in the city.