Santa Claus helps kick off holiday safety campaign
None other than Santa Claus, himself, helped Orange County law-enforcement agencies kick off the 2017 Operation Safe Holiday at the Mall at Millenia on Tuesday.
After Christmas carols by the Timber Creek High School choir, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Orlando Police Department Deputy Chief Mark Canty reminded shoppers to be extra vigilant during the holiday season. Canty encouraged shoppers to be aware of their surroundings and “remember our mantra: ‘If you see something, say something.’ ”
“To keep our community safe, our biggest partner is you,” he said. “I can’t tell you the number of criminals arrested that come from a simple phone call.”
Demings said the gifts and shopping that come with the holiday season can inspire thieves to target families. To prevent being victimized, he offered a few tips:
Lock your vehicle, and be sure valuables are secure and out of view. He also suggested parking in lighted areas and having keys in hand while returning to your car.
Shop with friends and family. Demings said there’s “safety in numbers.” Tell security officers if you feel unsafe, and report unattended bags.
He also warned against throwing away boxes for “big-ticket” items, such as TVs and other large electronics, at your home. Dispose of the boxes elsewhere so burglars don’t know what valuables you may have inside.
As part of Operation Safe Holiday, Demings and Canty said law enforcement will increase its presence around malls and shopping centers through the holiday season. With Black Friday kicking off the shopping season next week, officials say you can expect to find officers in parking lots and in stores deterring crime.
The Sheriff’s Office also said it will boost social-media efforts to offer safety tips for the holidays. A video released Tuesday on Twitter showcased the department’s K-9 Cannon, who takes down an actor pretending to be a purse thief who targeted a holiday shopper.
“We want you to have a happy and safe holiday season,” Demings said.