Walden Galleria beefs up security for holiday season

Cheektowaga

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The holiday shopping season is picking up momentum, but criminals are stepping up their game, too, especially around malls and shopping centers. It’s also a busy time for police, and Cheektowaga’s finest shared some important safety tips.

Despite the COVID pandemic, holiday shoppers are returning to the Walden Galleria, and other retail centers and so far, police say, it has been a safe return.

Cheektowaga is home to the largest retail center in Western New York, the Walden Galleria, which has seen its share of purse snatchings and car break-ins. Cheektowaga police are stepping up their game and working with mall security and a Buffalo anti-violence group.

Despite the COVID pandemic, holiday shoppers are returning to the Walden Galleria, and other retail centers and so far, police say, it has been a safe return.

“Black Friday was a very busy day for the mall. We had a lot of customers inside the mall. I am happy to report we did no problems in the mall on Black Friday, and it was definitely a busy day here at the mall,” said Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould.

Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould also says there are a few simple precautions shoppers can take to keep their holiday experience a good one. Make sure to lock your car up when you park it. Don’t leave packages visible through the car windows, and even better lock them in the trunk.

Be sure not to leave valuables unattended and carry your wallet or purse close to your body, or in a coat pocket or front pocket of your pants.

Cheektowaga police are also working with Western New York Peacemakers to enforce the parental escort policy.

“To make sure that the parents of these young individuals, and we are talking about up to 18-years-old, has a guardian with them. Otherwise, the policy here is to remove them from the establishment if they don’t have the proper ID,” said Pastor James Giles, Western New York Peacemakers.

As far as dealing with mob robberies as they have witnessed in other cities, Chief Gould said they are ready.

“We have worked hard to identify those people, to make sure when they do end up getting arrested for larcenies that the courts know that it is not your typical person going in and stealing one sweater, this is an organized retail crime ring that is operating, and we have been highly successful,” Chief Gould added.

The Walden Galleria renewed its “parental escort policy” a couple of years ago in response to a number of brawls among young people. Now on Fridays and Saturdays, a young person under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian after 4:00 p.m.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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