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Chief urges shoppers to remain calm, stay safe

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

With Black Friday -- even though much of it actually taking place on Thanksgiving Day -- fast approaching, Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler is urging shoppers to stay calm and remain safe.

An increased police presence will be available during the kickoff of Christmas shopping season Thanksgiving evening and during the more traditional Black Friday.

But his words of caution are suitable to everyday activities.

First, he's suggesting people not leave valuables in plain view, especially in an unlocked vehicle.

There have been instances recently when items have been taken from vehicles parked overnight on the street outside a person's residence, with items of value inside.

In a couple cases, Scheibler said, windows were broken so thieves could take a purse or a laptop from an otherwise locked car.

But with the holiday shopping season fast approaching, he's cautioning Hays residents to be aware of their surroundings when leaving stores and returning to cars.

People should walk to their cars with their keys already out so they quickly can get in their cars.

"Black Friday is an exciting time," Scheibler said. "All the discounts, all the people."

But that means taking the time to use caution while driving through parking lots.

It's also time to remain calm.

He said there have been incidents locally in the past when shoppers were pushing and shoving to be the first inside a store to get the best prices.

And there have been times when a line formed waiting for a store to open.

"They have to recognize that criminals see them as a long line of people with cash and credit cards and all lined up for easy pickings," Scheibler said.

That same caution needs to be exercised inside the store as well.

"Always be aware of where your purse and wallet are when in a crowd," he said. "We live in a good community. We just have to be aware."