Officers on holiday beat head to stores


Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 3:22 p.m.
Robbers and road-raging drivers beware.
Area officers are heading to shoppers' holiday haunts to keep an eye out for problems.
Officers will be on the lookout for any trouble as residents jam the stores in the upcoming weeks searching for the perfect gift. Holiday details for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the Gainesville Police Department started Friday, considered the biggest shopping day of the year.
"We'll be out there before the crowds will," said police spokesman Sgt. Keith Kameg.
Similar law enforcement programs also will start in Columbia and Marion counties.
Both Alachua County agencies are assigning officers to high-traffic holiday locations such as The Oaks Mall through December. Among those assigned to the details will be officers who generally work in local schools but are available as students head home for holiday vacations.
Kameg said police also will monitor stores in the Thornebrook Shopping Center and on S. Main Street.
Deputies will primarily be assigned to stores along Archer Road and Newberry Road. The main goal is to stop robbers. But Alachua County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Steve Maynard said deputies also will be in plainclothes looking for shoplifters, as well as helping with traffic control and targeting road rage.
Another stop for officers will be grocery store parking lots, a location that's often overlooked but attract large numbers of holiday shoppers, Kameg said.
Online scams pick up during the holidays, officers also warned. And residents should be cautious if approached by people asking for donations door-to-door, which most reputable charitable organizations don't do, police said.
Use common sense when leaving gifts and other items in vehicles in store parking lots.
"Take a look in your car when you leave it. Whatever you see, a criminal can see," Kameg said.
Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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