SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah Police Department (SPD) is getting ready Wednesday for an increase in crime that happens every year during the holidays.
Officers say cold weather and chaos during the holidays trigger criminal activity in nearly every neighborhood, especially near shopping areas and gas stations.
Savannah Police Detective Mason Hamm says criminals looking to rob commercial property will often target gas stations throughout the Coastal Empire.
“People need cash to buy presents,” he said. “A lot of gas stations are big cash businesses so they carry a lot of cash on hand.”
He says more hours of darkness and colder temperatures also contribute to the spike in commercial robberies.
“It’s easier to be seen at night,” he said. “The colder weather allows people to wear baggier clothing, heavier clothing. Having a hood on doesn’t stick out like it does in the summertime.”
For the rest of this year, Savannah Police Department says it is increasing patrols near gas stations and shopping areas, which are targets for other types of crimes.
“We want people to be safe, especially when they’re getting ready to take care of people they care about,” said Savannah Police Officer Samantha Heard.
Businesses inside malls and near popular shopping areas are likely targets of shoplifters during the holidays, according to SPD. Plus, criminals are also looking for easy steals in cars parked in large parking lots.
“Be mindful of what’s going on… do not leave things out in the open,” said Officer Heard.
Instead, Heard suggests hiding shopping bags and items in the trunk of your car, where criminals cannot see them. If you can, she also suggests you shop with other people.
If you feel unsafe, Heard says you can call SPD’s non-emergency number for help or for an escort to your car in the parking lot.
“A lot of places have security, let them know. And if they can’t, we have a non-emergency line ad when we can get to those calls, we’ll do that,” said Heard.