Law enforcement launches Operation Safe Holidays

Annual holiday program meant to curb burglaries, thefts

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Various officers and deputies from all over Orange County were on hand at the Mall of Millenia as part of the launch for the annual Operation Safe Holidays program. 

"Unfortunately, the criminal element in our society also recognizes the holiday season as a season for them as well," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. 

As part of the annual program, in its ninth year, shoppers are warned to lock car doors, keep packages and gifts out of plain sight, and speak up if anything seems out of the ordinary. 

"We want our guests and our residents to be vigilant; be aware of their surroundings," Deputy Chief Mark Canty, with Orlando Police Department, said. "If they see something that doesn't look right, let us know, and we'll investigate and take care of it. I can't tell you the number of crimes or criminals that have been arrested by a simple phone call from a concerned citizen or a concerned visitor. " 

Shoppers should expect to see more situations with highly visible officers but also be aware that's not all that may be going on. 

"You may see officers on horseback, officials on bicycles, officers on motorcycles, but there will also be things you won't see," Canty said. "We'll have officers out there in plain clothes and other ways." 

"We're sending a message to criminals," Demings said. "We're going to put you in jail if you intend to prey on our innocent people here. Many of us who may work administrative jobs or certain hours of the day, they're going to come out and they, too, will be patrolling." 

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