Uniformed and plainclothes police officers will be patrolling Cherry Hill during the holiday shopping season in an effort to deter criminal activity.
The start of the holiday shopping season also marks a busy time for the Cherry Hill Police Department.
The police department puts an emphasis on patrolling shopping districts during December and is taking extra steps to keep shoppers safe this year.
“We do allocate additional resources to the shopping districts throughout the township,” Chief of Police William Monaghan said. “We know we’re going to have an increase in pedestrian and vehicular traffic in those areas.”
Additional patrols are deployed to shopping areas throughout Cherry Hill during the holiday season. These patrols consist of both uniformed and plainclothes police officers. The police department also has marked and unmarked police cars in the parking lots of shopping centers to enforce traffic regulations and deter criminal activity.
At the Cherry Hill Mall, off-duty Cherry Hill police officers are hired during the holidays to complement the mall’s security guards.
“We’re putting plainclothes officers inside the mall,” Monaghan said. “We are going to do decoy details where we’re going to have officers out there staged as customers or shoppers.”
The police plan to have an extra presence at shopping centers even after the holidays are over. Monaghan said it is common to see juveniles who are off school for winter break spend their days inside the mall and other places around Cherry Hill.
“We’re not going to tolerate disruptive or unruly behavior,” Monaghan said.
The police department is also partnering with businesses to give them the tools to deter theft in their stores. On Nov. 16, the police department held a retail theft reduction and prevention presentation for store managers and loss prevention associates.
“We have a retail theft initiative that we just started where we’re partnering with the big box stores and the smaller stores in the township to combat retail theft, shoplifting and other crimes connected with retail theft,” Monaghan said.
About 10 to 15 stores were represented at the first program. Monaghan said the police department plans to continue the initiative and get more stores involved in the future.
An initiative police started two years ago was the addition of two safe transaction zones at the police department’s building at 820 Mercer St. The zones give residents who are buying or selling goods online a place to safely complete the transactions. The zones are equipped with security cameras that record all activity, 24 hours a day.
Monaghan encourages residents who need to meet someone to complete an online transaction this holiday season to use the zones.
The police department also advises residents to take safety precautions while shopping. Monaghan said one of the most important tips for shoppers is to keep vehicles locked at all times.
“Do not leave your car keys inside your vehicle,” Monaghan said. “We have car thefts that occur because the owners leave the car keys inside the vehicle and leave the vehicle unlocked.”
Shoppers should also be careful about leaving gifts and valuables in plain sight inside a vehicle.
“If you have a car that’s a trunk, not an SUV, put your items in the trunk when you go into a store,” Monaghan said.
Monaghan said SUV owners can use a protective screen to hide the contents in their trunk. Blankets can also be placed over items to hide them from view. Shoppers should also keep electronics such as GPS devices out of view at all times.
The police department will be posting shopping tips on its social media accounts throughout the holiday season. The department’s goal is to deter criminal activity as best it can and make shopping districts safe places for all.
“We are there, both visibly and discreetly,” Monaghan said. “If you come here with the intent to commit a crime, we will arrest and prosecute you.”