Black Friday attacks leave shoppers more aware - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Black Friday attacks leave shoppers more aware

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Gun shots. Mayhem. It was a year ago this Friday when a family from North Carolina was walking to their car in the parking lot across from a Myrtle Beach Walmart. Two men armed with guns attacked them, one woman was shot in the leg, her son pistol whipped.

A witness remembers, "First we thought they were fire crackers until we saw people running then we saw some guys on the ground."

A year later the case is still unsolved.

Every Black Friday you hear these horror stories of shootings, fights, even people getting trampled just to get in the front door.

"We went to Walmart and of course we stood outside and waited for the doors to open and then you go in and they pretty much step over the top of you," says Black Friday shopper, Angie Harrelson.

Pouring through police reports, it was discovered that Myrtle Beach Police responded to three shoplifting incidents last year on Black Friday. Florence Police dealt with five shoplifters and one pick pocket. In the scheme of things, there were a pretty low numbers of crime reports overall, but many times these crimes go unreported.

Those crimes that did occur, all happened at heavily trafficked shopping centers and they had one thing in common, they were random. These are usually crimes of opportunity, which is why it's so important to constantly scan what's going on around you. That includes when you're walking to the car to unload your bags and make sure you know who might be watching you when you park. Someone can easily see if you tuck something valuable under your seat. The second you walk inside, they pounce.

"You've got these parking lot crazies out there sitting in cars and waiting to see a woman come out and guess what he's going to grab her bags and go," says Angie who says staying alert is a top priority when she's out shopping.

With hundreds of people coming through the doors of Ashley Furniture Homestore on the big shopping day, General Manager Kevin Satterfield has to keep a close eye on who walks in and what might walk out.

"And it is tricky at times because we don't always wrap every accessory that leaves out of here," says Satterfield.

So to keep his losses low, he beefs up staff levels, implements code words among staff members and has learned the art of reading people because our bodies say so much without even muttering a single word.

"It's just those things over the years that you pickup on body language the uncertainty the looking around, the head movement, but they're looking for that opportunity when no ones looking and sometimes that's how they succeed."

While the major malls and shopping centers in the Grand Strand were unable to go on camera to explain the specifics of their Black Friday safety precautions, they all admitted to having more hands on deck across the board. Meaning more security guards, more cleaning crews and more employees keeping their eyes and ears open.

Satterfield explains, "The number one security that concerns me and our ownership group is the people, the people that work here and that's the number one reason for the intense security to make sure they stay safe leaving, coming and going this time of year."

If you see anything suspicious going on, stores are encouraging you to speak up and tell the nearest staff member immediately.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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