Expect to see more police officers at shopping centers around the Las Vegas Valley this holiday season.
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Harry Fagel, who oversees the robbery unit, said the move is part of an annual initiative meant to combat robberies of businesses and shoppers.
“It’s very effective,” Fagel said. “And I think what’s more important is it gives tremendous peace of mind to people that are shopping — when they turn to their right or left and they see a police officer in his uniform or her uniform.”
Las Vegas detectives have arrested about 140 people in connection with commercial robberies this year. And while holiday shopping is typically prime time for criminals, Fagel said seeing officers in mall parking lots or common areas might make would-be thieves think twice.
Fagel said undercover detectives also will be in malls and stores, keeping an eye out for theft. But he reminded shoppers to stay vigilant, too. He offered the following safety tips:
■ Lock vehicles when you leave them, hiding or taking valuables with you before you take off. Lock vehicles if you are sitting inside them, too.
■ Avoid shopping alone if possible. Going in a group of two or more makes it harder for criminals to take advantage of you.
■ Park in a place that is conspicuous. Even if parking lots are crowded and there aren’t many spots available, consider waiting for a well-lit parking space in view of businesses and surveillance cameras.
■ Pay attention to the people around you, both in parking lots and inside stores. If someone is following you or other shoppers, or looking into cars, report it.
Metro spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said victims are never responsible for a crime, but some behaviors can welcome a “crime of opportunity.” Those shopping with children can be especially vulnerable if not aware and alert.