PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4) – With Black Friday right around the corner ’tis the season to holiday shop ’til you drop. It’s also the busy season for pickpockets, shoplifters and those who prey on holiday shoppers.

In order to protect and serve, the Pembroke Pines Police Department will kick off their annual Holiday Task Force on Wednesday to protect shoppers at the city’s various shopping venues. Made up of citizen volunteers and police officers, members of the task force rely on high visibility and increased patrols of mall and shopping center parking lots to deter crime. The Holiday Task Force will be on patrol until January 2nd.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office will also beef up their presence at area shopping malls to help mall security guards keep an eye on ‘suspicious’ individuals and arrest those caught stealing or doing any other criminal act.

The BSO reminds all shoppers to play it smart this holiday season and not be distracted by the crowds and the shiny objects in the displays.

Always park your vehicle in a well-lit and well-traveled area and remember where you parked. Also, stash any valuables or previously bought items out of view, or better yet, lock them in the trunk. Be sure to lock your doors. When you leave the store or mall and are heading back to your vehicle, take a look around for any ‘suspicious’ people.

Keep a close eye on your purse, wallet, cell phone, and other valuables. Pickpockets and thieves look for someone distracted by the busy holiday crowds.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and carry only the credit cards you need for your shopping trip. If your credit card is stolen, report it immediately; most fraudulent use of credit cards takes place within hours of the theft.

If you notice someone acting suspiciously or committing a crime, don’t try to intervene. Instead, report the situation to a store manager, a security guard, or a law enforcement officer.


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