Police step up anti-theft efforts at area malls

With the number of shoppers increasing at local shopping malls, area police are upping their anti-theft efforts, which include undercover officers. (AP/The Clarion-Ledger, Vickie D. King)

WASHINGTON – Criminals beware: Extra police officers are on duty at local malls and you won’t always see them.

“Could be standing in front of you, behind you, beside you, anywhere,” says Don Gotthardt with Fairfax County Police. “They’re everywhere throughout malls and you would have no way of knowing.”

The department uses what it calls “retail anti-theft teams” this time of year, he says.

“Their primary mission is to identify, detect, apprehend anybody who may be looking to shoplift, to steal from people, rob people,” Gotthardt says.

Gotthardt says the teams have been extremely successful over the years.

He has a few tips if you’re out shopping at night.

“Avoid any dark areas, any corners that you can’t see around. Things like that,” he says.

And, if you see something or someone suspicious in a store or parking lot, Gotthardt says call the police.

“And you can do that anonymously. You don’t have to give us your name. Just a good description of the person and or the vehicle,” he says.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report. Follow Michelle and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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