City police are increasing patrols in downtown Thomasville via cops on bikes and at Gateway Shopping Center with a command post.
The Gateway command post will be positioned at various shopping center locations. Police will monitor pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
“We want the community to know we are there,” said Lt. Eric Hampton, Thomasville Police Department public information officer.
Also, shoppers will have easy access to police.
School resource officers, who also are crime prevention officers, will staff the command unit.
The facility is equipped with computers to allow officers to write reports. Also equipped with crime scene-processing equipment, the post can be used to investigate a crime in the event of a serious incident.
Gene Kowalski, Belk manager, said the presence of the unit helps people feel safe and secure and deters potential crime.
“I think it’s a wise allocation of community resources, putting police where there’s a high concentration of holiday shoppers,” Kowalski said.
Downtown, the bike patrol will join forces with officers on foot and in vehicles.
Hampton said citizens are reminded to report anything suspicious they witness. Suspicions may be reported to police in person or by calling dispatch at 226-2101.
Thieves are looking for anything of value.
Hampton said shoppers should be aware of their surroundings. Purses should be held tightly.
“Don’t carry too many packages around from store to store, because you cannot protect yourself if you do,” Hampton explained.
Someone might appear to be a shopper, but actually be looking to steal or rob, Hampton said.
Vehicles should be locked. The officer said some people go from vehicle to vehicle in search of an unlocked door and valuables inside.
Shoplifting is another crime that increases during the holidays. Shoplifters should be reported to management at a business.
“We receive quite a few shoplifting calls from supermarkets and other retailers,” Hampton explained.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.