Mall at UTC

Safety will be a top priority at the Mall at UTC

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Mall security officers will be more than a deterrent to shoplifters: They will provide a comforting presence in parking lots and offer shoppers who might need assistance with a dead car battery or help with navigating the mall.

Safety is a top priority at the mall, and the developers have contracted Universal Services of America to provide around-the-clock security, said General Manager Octavio Ortiz.

"We use them throughout our portfolio and we are happy with their services," Ortiz said.

Security guards will patrol the mall on foot and in cars, making their way around the stores and parking lots.

To ensure safety, the mall installed about 34 call boxes, located throughout the parking lots and in the courtyards, Ortiz said. If shoppers use the call box, they will reach Universal Services of America's dispatch. Most such calls are not serious, Ortiz said.

Security guards will be able jump-start cars if needed. Those who lock their keys in the car need not worry either, the mall will have a local locksmith it will work with.

Deputy Russell Younger with the Manatee Sheriff's Office offers a few personal safety tips to all shoppers:

Leave your purse in your trunk or at home before you leave the house.

Put your shopping bags in the trunk and drive to the other side of the mall if you want to drop off bags and continue shopping.

Never leave anything valuable in your car and lock you doors.

Be aware of your surroundings. Look around for people loitering.

For additional tips, visit the crime prevention tab at

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.