Local law enforcement is gearing up to prevent crime during the busy holiday shopping season. Monday, the Fresno Police Department announced it's 16th annual "Operation Christmas Presence."
The holidays are a time of year when thefts and robberies tend to spike, and police say you can never play it too safe.
Like thousands of valley shoppers, Joe Chaidez is ready to get a start on his holiday shopping.
Joe Chaidez says, "I think we'll be here Friday. I think my wife and I will be here shopping for our kids."
It's a time of year Chaidez looks forward to. But as malls fill up with shoppers, and countless cars sit unattended in parking lots, thieves are ready to strike. So, the Fresno Police Department is sending a simple message.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer says, "You will be watched. You'll either be watched by volunteers, by undercover officers or by video policing cameras."
Starting Friday, the department is beefing up patrols at major shopping centers like the Fashion Fair Mall. Officers on horses and bikes will be hanging around targeting criminals, and keeping shoppers safe.
"That makes me feel very good. I'm glad law enforcement is out here," says Chadiez.
Chief Dyer says, "That's what's important to us, is that folks feel safe and not get victimized while they're out and trying to have a good time."
Police are also calling on the public to do their part.
Ruth Poole was shopping at the mall Monday. She says, "You unfortunately have to be very careful these days, and you have to pay attention to what's happening around you."
Poole has learned over the years what not to do while shopping during the holidays.
"I make sure there's nothing in the car."
She also avoids shopping alone and keeps her purse close to her side. Police say there's been a decrease in crime around shopping malls, but it's still important to stay cautious, so this holiday season can be one you'll enjoy.
Some other tips to stay safe while out shopping is to lock your doors. Police say it's also good to invest in some sort of anti-theft device. If you're out shopping after dark, you should try to park in a well-lit area as well.
"Operation Christmas Presence" will start this Friday and will run through Christmas Eve.