ALBANY, GA (WALB) – This will be one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year for Albany area stores, as South Georgians get in the holiday spirit.
Law enforcement knows it's also one of the busiest times around the stores for crooks looking to take your goods. But Albany Police and businesses say they have increased security, to protect you from criminals while you shop.
Albany Police and Lee County Sheriff's know that crooks like to target those shoppers and their cars so they have increased patrols around these shopping centers. And the stores say they have also stepped up their security measures.
Shopper Thomas Smith says he doesn't think much about crime while he is shopping. "Honestly I don't, but for some reason I don't."
But his wife Tara says she stays more alert in store parking lots, because she thinks thieves watch women.
"If she opens her trunk, if she is getting out, especially at the mall. Women are usually more than likely a victim of that than men. So I do worry about it quite a bit," Smith said.
Albany Police have stepped up patrols, especially at the Mall, to make sure the Smiths can relax.
"We're just trying to make sure our presence is seen, and try to deter as much crime as possible," said Officer Christopher Richardson.
Now while you may see Officer Richardson, you might not see other police officers who are also on patrol. APD has plainclothes cops also on duty around the Mall and shopping areas targeting crooks targeting you.
Because they know you are thinking about gifts and family, and busy schedules. But Police urge you to lock your car, put your gifts out of sight in your trunk, and stay alert.
"Always be aware of your surroundings. People around you. If something appears suspicious to you, then it is suspicious. Don't be afraid to call us for anything," Richardson said.
Walmart and the Mall both have private security patrols in their parking lots and stores, and have increased that security for these busy shopping weeks ahead. They urge you to park in well lit areas and walk in groups...but Tara Smith said there is one problem.
"But how can I go shopping for him if he's with me. We definitely have to worry about that," Mrs. Smith said.
But Officer Richardson will be just one of the officers watching out for shoppers and more importantly watching for the crooks.
Officer Richardson said crooks will sit in cars watch for you to bring a big load of gifts out of the store, lock them in your trunk, and then go back in to another store. Then they may come and break in your car. A good tip, after you put a load of gifts in your car, drive around and park in another spot near your next store. If a crook is watching, he'll think you are leaving.
Albany Police have extra cops on the streets now and will continue throughout the holidays, not only at the stores. Crime and thefts usually go up dramatically in December.
Walmart managers say they have increased their private security in the store and the parking lots because of the crowds.