Despite two violent incidents at the Cross Creek Shopping Center in the past two months, authorities say shoppers shouldn't be concerned about their safety.
The most recent incident happened Monday night, when a 24-year-old man was shot in the arm after an argument with two men in the Walmart parking lot. The two suspects remain at large.
The other incident, which happened in November, began when a woman pulled a knife on her father during an argument in the parking lot. Police say Cassandra Maura Ramos, 20, of Beaufort followed her father to Port Royal where she fired shots at him. There were no injuries in the incident. Ramos was charged with attempted murder and possession of a concealed weapon, among other charges.
Changes to way the Beaufort Police Department patrols the area would only come if a trend of incidents were occurring at a certain time or day of the week, or if random strangers were victims, Chief Matt Clancy said. The two recent incidents, however, involved people who knew one another.
Walmart has surveillance cameras in the parking lot. Efforts Wednesday to contact company officials about other types of security were unsuccessful.
Since June, there have been four reports of physical assault and 12 reports of minor assaults or threats at the shopping center, according to Beaufort Police dispatch reports. There were almost five times as many calls for non-violent instances of shoplifting, theft and car break-ins.
Officers, Clancy said, are being proactive in patrolling the area.
"A vast majority of the (dispatches) are officer generated," Clancy said.
He also said many of the incidents are related to the fact that IHOP, Smokers Express and Walmart are open around the clock seven days a week.
"A lot of people go there at odd hours," he said.
To deter crime during the holiday season, Clancy said off-duty officers are allowed to drive their patrol vehicles within city limits, as long as they have radios on and police equipment with them. Clancy said the department will analyze how the extra visibility affected crimes rates and gasoline and car maintenance costs in January.
Other law enforcement officials in the area urge residents to use extra caution when it comes to the holidays.
Investigator Andre Massey of the Port Royal Police Department said the easiest thing to do is lock your vehicle.
"(Thieves) know you're buying stuff for the holidays," he said, "and they'll steal it if they can."
Beaufort Police Deputy Chief Dale McDorman said women should always keep purses with them instead of putting them in shopping carts. Shoppers should also avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
After presents are given, McDorman said empty boxes left at the end of driveways can tell thieves what Santa Claus brought.
"You're just advertising all the stuff you got for Christmas," he said.