Police target holiday shopping crime - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Police target holiday shopping crime

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The holiday shopping season in full swing has local police on high alert. Right now, Richmond officers are targeting specific areas in the city where you do much of your gift buying and also could become victims of crime.

"Our crime rate goes up, our larcenies go up, unfortunately our robberies go up," Richmond Police Sgt. James Wilson says of this time of year in the city.

It's the time of year where that giving spirit is in the air and all over, Richmonders are giving thieves the opportunity to strike. You can spot targets everywhere--purses left open, packages in plain sight in cars and shoppers with their hands full and defenses down. Store owners try to give their customers the best advice.

"We want you to shop and have lots of bags but you know keep a hand free and keep your packages and things in your trunk," said Lex's of Carytown owner Lisa McSherry. "Don't let anything be visible in your car. No car is ever broken into without something that someone wants."

They can't do it alone. That's why now you'll also be able to see Richmond Police officers in the city's shopping corridors. They make up a special team in the police department, which focuses on street crimes. For the next few weeks they'll be targeting Carytown and Stony Point to remind shoppers these gifts are for family and friends, not crooks.

"We have to show a presence and when people see us it kind of trickles in their mind 'ok, the police, they must be out here for a reason,'" Sgt. Wilson added.

It's not just presence. The team patrols and hands out holiday cheer with some free advice.

"I love the presence," McSherry said. "I love that they're on guard and aware of the holiday season and what kind of crime it can bring."

If you see something suspicious the police department wants to know about it. You can call the non-emergency number at 646-5100.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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