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Huntsville police to start Operation Safe Shop this Friday

Operation Safe Shop allows officers to work overtime to monitor stores and parking lots.

Posted: Nov 24, 2019 4:45 PM
Updated: Nov 25, 2019 7:50 AM

Thanksgiving marks the official start of holiday shopping, which also means a spike in crimes.

Shoppers need to be distracted only for a matter of seconds before they become victims of a crime.

"It's so easy for someone to be in the back of the parking lot and get their purses knocked down. You should really be alert," Carey Oats said.

Oats says she always take precautions when she goes out shopping. Those precautions increase during the holiday season.

"I'm not going to go alone unless it's an absolute emergency," Oats said.

Huntsville Police is also taking some steps to make sure you stay safe. This Friday, Operation Safe Shop begins. It allows their officers to work overtime to monitor stores and parking lots.

"We want our shoppers to feel safe. It's natural for this season to have a high volume of people in these areas, so it's our duty to go out there and do this," Lt. Michael Johnson said.

You won't know what kind of vehicle police will be in since they can be in marked or unmarked vehicles, but officers will always wear their uniforms.

"We are not out here being proactive, looking to arrest someone. This is preventive, or crime deterrent kind of detail," Lt. Johnson said.

This is the 20th year of the program and police say they've seen the results. Last year, at least five incidents were reported, but Huntsville Police say they've seen years with zero reported robberies in shopping districts.

Despite the extra patrol, police are asking shoppers to stay vigilant.

"It's about being aware of your surroundings and locking your doors," Lt. Johnson said.

Oats says she will already be aware, but is relieved to have some back up from officers.

"It's important for them to be very visible at all times," Oats said.

Operation Safe Shop begins this Friday and will run until December 24.

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