Robberies, purse snatchings increase Holiday crime surging early, police say

November 13, 1996|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Bandits, muggers and purse snatchers appear to be getting an early start on their season of preying on holiday shoppers, Anne Arundel police say.

Police say they usually don't see an increase in robberies until after Thanksgiving, when the holiday shopping season officially begins. But this year the robberies seem to be coming earlier.

Sgt. Norman Milligan, a supervisor in the robbery unit, said statistics for October are not complete, but that he has noticed a surge in street robberies and purse snatchings in the past two months.

"I think it's an early start," he said.

Anne Arundel is not the only county with an increase, however. Baltimore County reported a 7.7 percent increase in robberies at the end of September and a 3.6 percent increase at the end of October, police spokesman Kevin Novak said.

A Howard County police spokeswoman said there has been an increase in robberies through October, but statistics will not be available until later this week.

Robberies have decreased in Baltimore, said Lt. Larry Leeson of the city robbery unit.

Robberies increase during the holiday season because there are more shoppers on the streets providing "a bigger pool of potential victims to pick from," according to Arundel spokesman Sgt. Jeff Kelly.

But it is difficult to determine whether a few thieves are committing more robberies or there are more thieves out to rob during the holiday season, he said.

He said he is certain that robbers who increase their haul during the shopping season are not doing it to get money to buy Christmas presents.

Police usually begin increased patrols in the shopping centers after Thanksgiving, but they are urging shoppers now to be alert and careful and to take some of these precautions.

Park in well-lighted areas.

Always leave one hand free or keep your keys in one hand for use as a potential weapon.

Don't shop alone.

Always let someone know where you are going and how long you will be there.

If something or someone looks suspicious, stay away.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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