HENDERSON (FOX5) -- A group of Las Vegas church leaders launched a new campaign last week to warn shoppers to be on the lookout.
Busy shopping times can also be an ideal time for human traffickers, they said.
“This is where everyone is out and about and you are easily distracted by deals, by packaging, by lights,” Reverend Kathy LaFleur said.
The bright lights from an open store, 70% off displayed in the store window, it’s enough to catch any shopper’s eye. While they may be looking for that great steal, experts said it’s easy to get tunnel vision and forget about what’s going on in their surroundings.
“You know you're not aware of someone looking at you or following you to your vehicle or throughout the mall,” LaFleur said.
People on their phones, weaving in and out of crowds, “you may lose someone in the mix of that chaos,” she said.
“People walk with their heads down so much that a lot of times they're literally bumping into you,” Melissa Nixon said.
Teens and children are often the targets.
“You know they can't think on their feet really fast, and they may be coerced to come to someone, someone may have a question for them just to lure them out of a safe place,” LaFleur said.
But traffickers have tricks to catch anyone off guard.
“They can zip tie your windshield wipers and when you get out of your car to check and see what that is, they have someone to grab you,” she said.
That’s why the church leaders launched Operation 2x2.
“You want to make sure that there's always two people,” LaFleur said.
Fueled by social media, the church leaders want women to share the message with each other.
“You can never say not my child, not my neighborhood, not my mall,” LaFleur said. She added this new campaign is a warning for women in any public area, not just shopping malls.
Find out more about Operation 2x2 here.
Henderson police set up mobile cameras in popular shopping areas. It’s part of the police department’s efforts to make sure shoppers are safe and their property is protected this holiday season.
Galleria at Sunset sent FOX5 a statement laying out its added holiday security efforts:
Galleria at Sunset has increased patrols, assistance to vehicles, and we have partnered with the HPD for a Retail Corridor Safety Initiative which increases communications between all the businesses from Walmart to Target to Sunset in order to decrease any criminal activity. We also partner with HPD for increased patrols during this time of year.