Home News-Free Don’t let crime ruin your holidays

Don’t let crime ruin your holidays

Bossier City Police Cpl. Scott Wells (left) and Cpl. Matt Faulkner (right) stop by a local gas station to check on store employees. BCPD is stationing its Armed Robbery Task Force all across retailers on Black Friday, Nov. 29, through the end of the year.

As crime tends to rise this time of year, see how police are, and you can, fight back

We’ve all heard of Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” But as local law enforcement can tell you, someone doesn’t have to be a tall and green to ruin your holiday.

“There is always the potential for certain types of crime, such as theft and robbery, to increase during the holidays. Large amounts of cash are exchanged during this time of year and more people are out and about with money. The criminals know this and can often take advantage it by targeting unsuspecting shoppers,” said Mark Natale, Bossier City Police public information officer.

As many begin to make their holiday gift list and charity donations, burglars, thieves, and other criminals are gearing up for one of their biggest chances for pay dirt in 2013. They will be looking to steal presents and breaking into homes while scammers will use seasonal grifts to get your money.

“Burglaries have a tendency to increase as well because of presents that are placed in the home under the tree before and in vehicles,” said Natale.

Through all of November and December 2012, crime was curtailed, but still existent:

  • Armed Robbery

Individual — 1

Business — 2

  • Simple Robbery (robberies that don’t involve weapons)

Individual — 3

Business — 1

  • Burglary

Residential — 45

Business — 14

  • Auto Theft — 19
  • Vehicle Burglary — 88

To combat burglary, Bossier City puts out reserve officers to assist in certain areas as well as asking officers to be more vigilant. The police and the Bossier Sheriff’s Office each have their own armed robbery task forces on the prowl to hopefully stop crimes before they start.

“We think it’s a great deterrent for crime because it puts additional officers on the street and around retail establishments. The goal is to keep criminals guessing if this business they’re about to rob has an armed police officer,” said Natale.

And to help businesses and their shoppers avoid becoming victims, BCPD will unleash its Armed Robbery Task Force on Black Friday, Nov. 29, through the end of the year.

“For the 27th consecutive year, the Armed Robbery Task Force will be deployed during the holidays shopping season to deter armed robberies and other crime,” said Natale.

Unfortunately, during this time of year, emotions are heightened and the chance for physical violence also rises.

Below are the statistics for violent crimes in November and December 2012:

  • Aggravated Assault (persons threatening others with a dangerous weapon) – 19
  • Aggravated Battery (persons intentionally injuring others with a dangerous weapon) – 16
  • Simple Battery – 60

Although no one is immune to these crimes, the risk of falling victim to them can be greatly reduced with a few common sense steps.

“Stay alert — be aware of what’s going on around you; there’s safety in numbers — shop with friends or family; out of sight out of mind — keep packages hidden in your car and keep them away from windows when under a tree at home,” said Natale.

Here are some tips to prevent becoming a victim this season:

  • Keep garage doors closed and locked.
  • Leave a light on at night.
  • Do not allow strangers into your home, even if they say they are hurt and need help.
  • Keep the curtains or shades closed at night.
  • If you arrive home and your door is open or things appear out of place — don’t go in your home. Leave and call the police.

When shopping, police advise to:

  • Stay alert
  • Park in well lighted area, lock your vehicle, close windows,
  • Keep shopping bags out of sight
  • Avoid carrying cash
  • Keep your purse close to your body
  • Shop with a friend or family member
  • Be alert for “customers” who seem to be loitering or glancing around the store often.
  • Watch for suspicious persons outside businesses — especially people sitting in parked cars and standing around.
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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.