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Police warn against seasonal crimes

December 13, 2000

Police warn against seasonal crimes



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


Like children, criminals wait all year long for the holiday season- but for a different reason.

Busy malls and shopping centers mean a steady source of packages, purses and wallets to an opportunistic thief.

To help reduce holiday crime, local authorities are increasing patrols throughout retail centers in Washington County, according to Maryland State Police Lt. Randy Resh, commander of the Hagerstown barrack.

Keeping a noticeable police presence in the area of Valley Mall, Prime Outlets, Centre at Hagerstown and other retail areas will be a deterrent to would-be thieves, he said.

Since crime typically rises during the heavy shopping season, police must be ready for it, said Lt. Doug Mullendore of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

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"As we have in other years, we will be making more frequent patrols in retail establishments in the county," he said.

A new sheriff's department substation at Valley Mall will be a reminder to criminals that police are nearby and may make thieves think twice, he said.

The substation is equipped with a typewriter, phone and bar to which suspects can be handcuffed temporarily.

"It gives us a base of operations," said Mullendore.

The mall's substation provides deputies with a quiet place to interview victims or suspects, do paperwork and make calls, he said.

A Washington County Sheriff's deputy is scheduled to work out of the substation and patrol the mall on Fridays and Saturdays, he said.

The substation arrangement will continue indefinitely, he said.

Mall General Manager Ron Formosa said he approached the Sheriff's Department with a plan for a Valley Mall substation because he has seen such an arrangement reduce crime elsewhere.

"I'm very proactive. I just thought it would be a good partnership," said Formosa.

Valley Mall has its own security staff members who make indoor and outdoor patrols, he said.

Shoppers need to do their part to deter theft, according to Maryland State Police Sgt. M. Hegedus.

People shouldn't leave cars unlocked or valuables such as purses or wallets in view. Such items should be locked in the trunk, he said.

He advises shopping with a friend, avoiding carrying large sums of money and suggests that shoppers report suspicious activity.

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