Black Friday shopping at Columbia's mall.
Black Friday shopping at Columbia's mall. (2016 Baltimore Sun file)

Howard County police plan to increase patrols in shopping districts and on roadways for the holiday season.

The additional patrols, in effect between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, are meant to deter crimes common during the holidays.


Department spokesman Seth Hoffman declined to say how many additional officers there would be.

The department is encouraging shoppers to avoid leaving valuables in plain view inside parked cars, load packages into the trunk and to be skeptical of strangers making unsolicited approaches.

Police will also increase presence in neighborhoods across the county to deter potential package thefts. The department is encouraging people to track shipments, be home when packages are scheduled to arrive or ask “trusted” neighbors to hold packages.

When asked for holiday crime statistics from previous years, Hoffman said the department would not be able to compile the information as the office was closing early for the holiday.

In a statement, Spokeswoman Lori Boone said the increased police presence on roadways will “focus on enforcing traffic laws, with attention to impaired and distracted driving, speeding and seatbelt/child seat violations.”

Here are other tips for shoppers the department released in its annual alert:

  • Travel with a group or in pairs, and schedule shopping trips during the day.
  • Stay alert, especially when carrying packages or walking on a parking lot or in a garage. Avoid carrying too many packages, and leave one hand free to access keys or a phone quickly.
  • Park in a well-lit parking space, and select an area where there are other cars and foot traffic.

In past years, officers in plain clothes have been assigned to shopping areas.