Jacksonville Police Holiday Shopping Task Force returns

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The Jacksonville Police Department is working to help keep people’s holiday purchases safe this shopping season with the Holiday Shopping Task Force.

This year marked the 22nd year for the proactive crime prevention program, where teams of officers patrol shopping areas on foot, on bike and in patrol cars.

Plain clothes officers will also walk through shopping areas keeping an eye out for shoplifters. The officers staff these shifts on their off-duty hours, according to JPD.

The task force helps large retail stores handle holiday shopper traffic but also prevent theft. Officers say they see more car break-ins around this time of year than they do throughout most of the year.

“A lot of these individuals [robbers] they simply will walk around and just watch for people that are just complacent and grab it whenever they turn around to look at a look at a thing and then before you know it they disappear into the crowd,” said JPD Lt. Mark Ketchum.

The national insurance crime bureau reported 2,161 car break-ins on Black Friday in 2017. Officers are reminding people of simple recommendations on how to prevent yourself from being a victim.

“I think the main recommendations is keep everything out of sight. If you’re going to have a purse or anything of value or just anything keep it in the back of the car in the trunk of the car. Make sure the doors are locked. You know when you’re walking around make sure you’re paying attention to the wallets you purses and don’t leave him in the buggy or in the cart,” said Ketchum.

Police recommended several other tips to shoppers:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Shop in groups
  • Conceal packages in trunks
  • Report suspicious people or activities immediately
  • Carry bags or purses in your hands rather than on your shoulder or back
  • Don’t leave purses in shopping carts
  • People carrying cash should be discreet – Don’t flash money when purchasing gifts

The Holiday Shopping Task Force runs through December 31st.

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