HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – This is the time of year when many police departments begin to see a spike in certain crimes. In Hopewell, a new program is now underway to help keep shoppers and businesses safe this holiday season. It's called, "Operation Take Back."
The holiday shopping season is well underway for Leslie Crocker.
"I enjoy coming to the city to shop, eat, and do other things," said Crocker.
She knows, it's also the time of year when criminals go shopping, looking for easy targets.
"You just want to feel safe -- you want to feel safe on the streets you want to be able to enjoy yourself while you're shopping," said Crocker.
Hopewell Police say they often see an increase in robberies, burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts during the holidays. To get ahead of the potential problem, this year, the department has launched "Operation Take Back." More officers will be staged in certain parts of the city during the day, evening and night hours.
"You may see them walking around. You may see them in the neighborhood at night making sure stuff isn't left in cars. You may see officers out in unmarked cars or marked cars," said Sgt. Mike Walls.
Police say some officers who usually work inside the department will now be on the streets.
It's welcome news for Jean Wheeler. She's manages a boutique in Hopewell.
"The police do need to be out here more to make it safer -- you feel more comfortable to shop," said Wheeler.
She's hopeful the increased police presence will protect her products.
"My concern would be people stealing or all the crowds all at once being in the store and being able to keep your eyes on them," said Wheeler.
Police say, shoppers and store owners must also do their part to be safe -- which includes being on alert. It's unclear when, "Operation Take Back" will end. Police say the initiative may extend beyond the holiday season.