A carjacking, which ended with a 30-year-old attorney dying after being shot in the head at a shopping mall in New Jersey, serves as a cautionary tale about safety at the nation's retail centers as millions of people flood into malls to finish their holiday shopping.
"Malls seem like tightly-controlled and safe spaces for shopping, entertainment and dining. Yet they actually present great problems for those who are in charge of the safety and security of the retailers and customers," according to a Rutgers University report on crime prevention at malls.
Several police departments and security firms have released tips in recent weeks about how best to remain safe at malls this holiday season.
Park in well-lit areas close to your destination. "Parking lots and structures are typically the most dangerous places at the mall," according to security firm ADT. If shopping alone ask security personnel for an escort to your car. Carry your keys in your hand to use as a weapon if necessary.
When entering your car, remember E.L.F.S. - Enter the car, Lock the doors, Fasten seat belts and Scram, recommended the Monmouth County, New Jersey Sheriff's Office in a statement.
Pick restrooms in well-lit and well-trafficked areas of the mall. Always accompany children to the restroom.
Be mindful of your surroundings and the things you're carrying. Don't overload yourself with packages or become distracted by your cell phone.
Always know where the closest exit is located in case of fire or another emergency.