Augusta agencies offer safety advice for holidays

By Jozsef Papp

November 21, 2018

Law enforcement agencies in the area want to make sure people take safety precautions while shopping this holiday season.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree encourages people to be more aware of their surroundings this time of year when people usually have access to more cash, which doesn’t go unnoticed by criminals.

“Criminals are aware of that, so people need to be aware of that. I tell people all the time, especially when you are shopping, when you are going out, have a plan,” Roundtree said. “Don’t just get out, just go. Have a plan on where you are going, shop with friends. If you are going to go to your car, store your items where they are not visible.”

Maj. Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said members of their Special Operations Unit will be conducting surveillance and extra patrols will be assigned to monitor business establishments. Morris encourages shoppers to contact law enforcement if they see or hear something suspicious.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office recommends people use the online system LeadsOnline, which helps residents keep track of their valuables and is useful in recovering property in a loss or theft.

“Although our investigators have been using LeadsOnline for a short time period, it has proven to be very instrumental in the recovery of stolen items and in the identification of suspects,” Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard said. “With information provided by LeadsOnline, our investigators have been able to track down thieves, develop leads in numerous cases and make arrests.”

All three agencies encourage people to shop with a friend or family member and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Roundtree encourages people to not get easily distracted by their surroundings so they are less of a target for criminals.

“Most criminals work on crimes of opportunity. That is what people have to understand,” Roundtree said. “If they make themselves less of a target, then they are less likely to be a victim.”