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Cherry Hill Police keeping close on eye on theft, shoplifting during holiday season

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, Cherry Hill’s commercial areas are bustling with larger crowds than normal. With the larger crowds come additional opportunities for residents to become victims of theft.

Police chief William Monaghan said the department is extremely busy during the holiday season with patrols.

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“We focus on all of the heavily populated areas,” Monaghan said. “We do analysis of past calls of service and then we devote the allocation of our staffing to increase the visibility in those areas.”

Monaghan said the police department has an increase in theft and shoplifting calls during the holiday shopping season. The department has established good working relationships with many of the stores, which report shoplifters and suspicious activity as soon as they are aware.

Despite the vigilance of the police department and stores, Monaghan said many people still become victims of theft during the holiday season because safety isn’t the first thing in their mind. With high volumes of people walking through the stores, he said it’s easier for a wallet or credit card to go unnoticed.

“If someone bumps into you, it may be innocent, but they might be trying to pick your pocket or take your wallet,” Monaghan said.

Thieves use a number of tricks to try to remove money and credit cards from wallets without people knowing.

“They’ll actually pull the wallet out, peel back one or two cards, remove a card and then put the wallet back,” Monaghan said. “It may be a day or two before the victim realizes the card is gone.”

Monaghan said people who leave pocketbooks in shopping carts or on chairs at eating establishments are especially vulnerable to having items stolen. Residents are advised to keep their money and credit cards on their person and in a spot where they will notice if a theft is attempted.

Outside the stores, shoppers should still be aware of thieves. Cherry Hill Police has promoted a Lock It or Lose It campaign the last few years where people are asked to always keep their vehicle locked and valuables out of sight.

“A lot of times, people leave their car unlocked, they leave change or money in plain sight,” he said. “It leaves them vulnerable to becoming a victim.”

Shoppers should keep packages and valuables locked up and out of view while at a store. Items should also be removed from the vehicle immediately when the shopper arrives at home.

A few weeks ago, a different type of theft was attempted in the Cherry Hill Mall parking lot. A victim attempted to buy two iPhones advertised on Craigslist. Prior to finalizing the purchase, the victim opened the box and discovered it contained just rocks and cotton. A police officer patrolling the lot discover the seller had multiple iPhone boxes filled with rocks and cotton and arrested him for theft by deception.

Monaghan said cases such as the attempted Craigslist sale occur less frequently than other thefts, but residents should still be aware of what they are purchasing online.

“They will mark down an item like a iPhone on Craigslist because they’re not selling an iPhone, they’re selling a box of cotton and rocks,” Monaghan said. “If something looks too good to be true, it normally is.”

Residents are advised to only purchase items online from reputable websites or sellers. In addition, Cherry Hill Police advise buyers to meet with sellers in a crowded and well-lit place. The victim in the iPhone fraud case met the seller in the mall parking lot after the mall had already closed.

“You have to be careful when you’re dealing with anyone online,” Monaghan said.

There is an increased police presence at the Cherry Hill Mall and other shopping areas around the township. Residents who see suspicious activity can call Cherry Hill Police at (856) 665–1200.


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