Which Houston-area shopping centers attract most crime?


What we found is based on last year's numbers. Houston police officers are firm believers that you control this year's. They advise leaving purses at home and taking only one credit card, along with your driver's license or ID.

In the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, lugging bags to and from, shopper Tracey Parker is extra careful.

"Make sure I have my keys out, so that I'm prepared, and I make sure I'm definitely aware of what's going on around me, especially when I have my little ones with me," Parker said.

Paying attention is your best line of defense against those looking to commit a crime of opportunity.

Mary Hawkins has a second line of defense, her son.

"I always try to come with her wherever she goes," Deric Hawkins said.

So where are the safest places to shop?

Using our exclusive Crime Tracker, we added up last December's reported thefts, assaults and robberies in and around local malls.

Not surprisingly, we found the highest number of crimes at the biggest mall -- The Galleria. It had six vehicle break-ins and one pick-pocketing last December.

Greenspoint and Willowbrook are tied for second, with six crimes each.

Memorial City, Sharpstown and Baybrook all had five. Northline and Meyerland had four incidents; Town and Country had one, and Gulfgate had none.

Many malls like Memorial City have visible security, but Houston police officer Jim Woods says it's mostly about the individual.

"If you're not paying attention and you're not being aware of what's around you, you can be a potential victim," Woods said.

And you don't even have to be around. Shopping safety, he says, starts at your car.

"Before I came here, I emptied my car out," shopper Teresa O'Donnell said.

That's exactly what officers suggest. Also, they say you should make your most expensive purchases last and go immediately home from there.

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