Not only are retailers and shoppers gearing up for the holiday shopping season, so are thieves.
That's the word from area law enforcement.
Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said the Gainesville Police Department is not waiting until Black Friday to ramp up patrols in busy shopping areas. Officers already are paying special attention to Lakeshore Mall, the Dawsonville Highway corridor and the downtown square, making sure people have safe places to shop.
"We are somewhat the shopping hub of Northeast Georgia," Holbrook said, noting that while the extra shoppers are good for business, they also provide extra opportunities for criminals.
"We're going to do our best to ensure it [crime] does not happen, so we're going to educate the public, but we also want the individuals that are out there committing these crimes to know that we're going to be out there and they're not welcome to conduct their business here in town."
Holbrook said both uniformed and plain clothes officers will be on duty throughout the holiday season.
"These officers [plain clothes] are going to be out there looking like they're the shoppers, looking for suspicious activity," Holbrook said.
Also, police officers in the city of Flowery Branch plan to spent some extra time on patrol, particularly in the Stonebridge Village Shopping Center on Spout Springs Road.
Police Chief David Spillers said the city has had very few issues with crime in past holiday shopping seasons, but they will still take precautions.
"This year we have additional staff, so it will just be a matter of adjusting a few shift hours. Officers will be conducting increased patrols in the shopping areas both in their vehicles and on foot," Spiller said.
Local officers are repeating the shopping advice they share every year, hoping to minimize thefts.
- Be mindful of your surroundings
- Keep wallets, credit cards and other valuables out of site
- Secure packages in the trunks of vehicles, out of plain view
- Park in well-lighted areas when shopping at night
- Use the "buddy system"
- Report any suspicious activity immediately to an on-duty officer, or call 911