GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - This week many of you will head to malls and stores as early as Thanksgiving for great deals. But it's also a busy season for criminals.
Many metro Atlanta malls, including in Gwinnett County, are adding more security officers to help keep you and your valuables safe.
But officials say there are things you can do, like hiding your bags in the trunk and having your keys ready to keep you from becoming an easy target.
Shopper Merle Richardson admits he doesn't normally do Black Friday.
“I’m going to try and get everything completed by December 15,” Richardson said.
But says this year he plans to shop.
“Typically, I try to shop during the day,” Richardson said.
Clearing your car of valuables is one of the things Atlanta Police Officer Lisa Bender said shoppers should do to keep criminals away.
“Around the holidays just like everyone's shopping, the criminals are shopping as well,” Bender said.
She said stay alert and don’t get distracted by your cell phone. Always have your keys ready.
If you need to get cash, go during the day or inside a bigger store.
Starting this week, you can expect to see more police officers near the malls and shopping centers as part of their annual holiday retail detail.
“We want to increase the presence to deter them from doing things like breaking into peoples’ vehicles and things of that nature,” Bender said.
Police also remind drivers if your car has a keyless ignition, don’t leave or forget the fob in the car while you shop. It’s an easy way for criminals to steal your car.
Gwinnett Place Mall will feature private security professionals contracted by the CID to help provide shoppers visiting the more than 170 retail establishments in the area with even greater peace of mind.
The uniformed patrol officers work in cooperation with the Gwinnett County Police to notify law enforcement of potential criminal activity, and also provide motorist and commuter assistance.