Holiday Break-Ins at Shopping Centers

By: Diane Cho
By: Diane Cho

December 20, 2005
Four more days to get that Christmas shopping done and four days for deputies to be on the lookout for criminals trying to steal the holidays. News 12 is on your side with what you can do to protect yourself.

Everyone is out doing their last minute holiday shopping and police say so are the thieves.

It’s only six o’clock and so far for Deputy Bill Wood, it’s been a relatively quiet night out on patrol.

“It’s everybody getting out of work, last minute shoppers going around so things should be picking up,” Deputy Wood said.

And by that, he means crime. So far for the month of December, he alone has seen about 25-30 of what police call “opportunity crimes.”

“Where people leave their valuables in open and unlocked cars or where people leave things in open so they can easily smash windows to get what they’re after,” Wood said.

It’s why Columbia County sheriffs have stepped up their patrol during the holidays.

“We move, we don’t sit in one spot. We try to be as visible as we can and let everyone know we’re around looking for anything that doesn’t look right,” Wood said.

So where are the most popular places crooks like to spend their time?

“The bigger shopping areas like Bobby Jones, Wal-Marts, Targets or the strip malls that draw a lot of attention. They’ll go in stores, won’t make any purchases, come out and go back in but still won’t buy anything, so we’ll check them out,” Wood said.

He says the best thing you can do while you’re out shopping is to be aware of your surroundings.

“If you’re making eye contact with people they’re gonna steer clear of you,” Wood said.

Deputy Wood says most of the shopping centers like Target and Wal-Mart are safer than others because the areas are usually well lit and constantly being monitored. But if something does happen to you, he says the first thing you want to do is draw as much attention to yourself as you can.

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