ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – While the shopping experience may look different this year because of the pandemic, law enforcement agencies say the threat of crime is the same and are launching their annual safety initiative across Orange County.
Operation Safe Holiday kicked off Tuesday during a news conference at the Waterford Lakes Town Center.
For the 12th year, deputies and officers have increased marked and undercover patrols around shopping centers and malls.
“The idea of the operation is to really make it safe for our shoppers,” Sheriff John Mina said. “Just by us being out here and having a visible presence will and has in the past reduced and prevented crime from happening.”
In addition to law enforcement presence, shoppers are also asked to do their own part.
“We need you to be good witnesses. We need you to be aware of your surroundings,” Mina said. “Lock up your valuables. Don’t leave your valuables in plain sight.”
With the pandemic, a big focus this year has shifted to online retail and keeping delivered packages in the hands of the right person.
“Make sure that you’re there or a neighbor is there or a family member who’s going to be there can pick up the package,” Mina said.
Once at home, shoppers are also urged to properly dispose of big-ticket item boxes to avoid becoming a target after the holidays.
“If you’re out there and going to ruin the holiday plans for our residents, we’re here to ruin your plans and you can spend Christmas and the holidays behind bars,” Mina said.