Westminster police increasing foot patrols They're seeking to reduce crime downtown, at stores

November 23, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Westminster police will increase foot patrols in the downtown shopping district, Cranberry Mall and at city shopping centers to combat shoplifting, theft and robbery during the holidays.

Retailers say crime -- especially shoplifting, purse snatchings, auto break-ins and thefts -- typically rise 5 percent to 10 percent during the season between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, but the value of the items stolen usually is much greater during the holidays, Lt. Dean Brewer, a police spokesman, said Friday.

"We routinely cooperate with mall security and merchants throughout the city to be highly visible during the holiday shopping season," Brewer said.

The most significant jump in crime in Carroll County during the first six months of this year came in larceny theft -- 1,114 cases, compared with 992 in the first half of last year, a 12 percent increase.

A slight rise in the number of larceny thefts would be typical for the holiday season, Brewer said.

His agency strives to alert merchants and shoppers to be wary of suspicious activity and to take precautions to avoid becoming crime victims.

"The main thing for shoppers is to lock their cars and to place packages out of sight in the trunk," Brewer said.

He advises merchants to have sufficient salesclerks to wait on customers during busy periods and to be wary of distractions.

Shoplifters often work in pairs, Brewer said, one distracting a clerk while the other may go to the back of the store to steal something from a back room or closet, if not from display shelves.

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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