Dothan Police Step Up Patrol for Holidays

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The holiday season is quickly approaching, and with it usually comes an increase in crime, but taking a few precautions while shopping can greatly reduce your risk of being victimized.

Criminals thrive during the holiday season on innocent victims, and this year the Dothan Police Department is instituting a new program to protect shoppers. Officers will hit the streets to deter criminals from taking advantage of Christmas shoppers.

Sergeant Anthony Westberry with the Dothan Police Department said, "It’s the presence of officers. There would be as many as 20 more officers in any given area, so it’s bigger presence by the police."

Last year the program decreased crime in Dothan by nearly 50 percent. Shoplifting increases during the holidays and local retailers are planning strategies to protect their merchandise.

Megan Dean works at Handbag Heaven in the Wiregrass Commons Mall and said, "The day after Thanksgiving it gets really busy and we have girls who call if anyone looks suspicious, but normally it doesn't get too bad."

While police will be heavily patrolling shopping centers, they encourage residents to take precautions to protect themselves.

Dothan Police Chief John Powell said, "Be aware, park where it's well lit, bring friend, secure items in the truck don't leave valuables visible."

The 2005 crime report shows Claires and TJ max having the largest decrease in calls for police assistance. The Dothan Police Department hopes to see more stores become safer this season as a result of the Holiday Crime Prevention Squad.

The 2005 holiday crime report shows a 44 percent decrease in robbery of a person, a 43 percent decrease in robbery of a business and shoplifting decreasing 56 percent.