Dark parking lots concern Central Virginia shoppers

Posted at 7:48 PM, Dec 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-03 20:02:28-05

SHORT PUMP, Va. (WTVR) -- As customers flock to area malls and shopping centers, they should notice an increased police presence this holiday shopping season.

Mall security teams across Central Virginia said they are working hand in hand with police departments to beef up security during this time of year.

Recently CBS 6 viewers reached out to us to share their safety concerns about dark parking lots after one viewer expressed concern over poorly lit parking areas at a Mechanicsville Walmart.

"It was scary to me. It was just so dark and people were walking in the parking lot trying to quickly get to their cars," Ashley Ross said.

Pearl Webb-Ross said she also noticed the dark parking lot on two separate occasions at the store.

CBS 6 News' Shelby Brown contacted Walmart about the issue. The store manager said a problem with a breaker and that affected the lights in the parking lot. He tells us the problem has since been fixed.

A few days later, shoppers taking their children to see Santa at the Short Pump Town Center found themselves in a similar situation. One shopper shared a photo with CBS 6 News of the dark parking lot.

When CBS 6 News contacted a mall security official, he said that there was a glitch in the automated lighting system. He said on Monday when the lights didn't kick on, they got an alert and had to reset the lights. He said the issue was resolved in about 15 minutes.

In light of those situations and because of the influx of holiday shoppers, CBS 6 News asked what area malls and shopping centers are doing to keep customers safe.

Most declined to elaborate on their specific security strategies, but did say they are beefing up police presence.

In fact, a Chesterfield Town Center reps said they offer an escort service and that shoppers can have someone walk them to their vehicle if they request it.

This time of year officials there see an increase in those requests.

Other malls like Short Pump Town Center and Stony Point Fashion Park said they will also assist shoppers in that way, if the request is made for an escort.

Police said even in this joyous season, businesses and shoppers alike should remain vigilant.