To help combat the expected uptick in opportunity crimes during the holiday season, Carroll law enforcement will reinstate their annual increase in visible patrols.
Three organizations will conduct joint patrols of the commercial areas of Westminster beginning Dec. 1.
Uniformed officials from the Westminster Police, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police will conduct patrols from vehicles and on foot focused in the Md. 140 corridor and commercial areas along Westminster’s Main Street, according to a news release from the Westminster Police Department.
Referred to as the Holiday Crime Prevention Patrol Initiative, the program is aimed at reducing the various crimes that historically increase with the pre-holiday heavy shopping season including robberies, retail theft, shoplifting and theft from vehicles.
Westminster Police Capt. Misty Budzinski said in many cases these are crimes of opportunity that occur when people are in a hurry or not paying attention.
During the dedicated patrols, which will include shopping areas and parking lots, “the officers have a heightened opportunity to see things like that,” she said.
On-foot patrols will be split between the Westminster police and the sheriff’s deputies, who will patrol in the city in designated areas. Approximately three officers and one deputy will partner to cover each designated area, Budzinski said.
The Maryland State Police will focus their efforts of vehicle patrols along the Md. 140 corridor within the county.
After business hours, the law enforcement agencies will continue their presence with increased patrols for intoxicated or aggressive driving.
“The initiative has proven highly effective in minimizing crime during the holidays in past years,” stated the agenda for Westminster Common Council Meeting meeting on Nov. 27.
A duty officer for the Hampstead Police Department said the town also increases the number of patrol checks they do during the holiday season near businesses and tree lots.
“We tell our officers, ‘It’s a holiday season — be vigilant,” she said.
In addition, the sheriff’s office will begin specific patrols in Eldersburg, concentrated on the retail areas near Md. 26, said Sheriff Jim DeWees.
The Westminster Police issued advice to shoppers for staying alert while shopping. They advised parking in well-lit areas close to the entrance of the store if possible. While walking, walk in groups and keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings. Those who speak on cell phones while walking may be more distracted.
With purchases or packages in a vehicle, always lock the car and take your keys with you when leaving. Lock packages and valuables in the truck or cover them and put them out of sight of passerby.