One of Pete McClure's first responsibilities as Randolph Mall manager might be staving off holiday shoplifters.
McClure, who started at the mall earlier this month, said shoplifting has not yet increased, but added that it is customary to bolster mall security during the holidays.And the mall isn't the only place preparing for the annual surge in shoplifting and burglaries that takes place during the season. Local police are also gearing up for a slight crime increase.
``It really starts stepping up right around Christmas,' said Lt. Tony King of the Randolph County Sheriff's department.
Criminals sometimes are attracted to the presents piling up under the Christmas tree, police say. Shoplifters also get in on the action, trying to steal gifts they can't afford. All this adds up to a slight increase in crime.
December and January see more arrests for larceny than other months, with 7,613 larceny arrests reported statewide during those two months last year. October and November of last year, by comparison, had 6,963 larceny arrests.
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Last year, the sheriff's department embarked on a program called 'Save Christmas' to deter holiday crime, King said.
``They were doing more traffic stops, obtaining more information,' he said. ``Last year, it wasn't too bad.'
The department also pulled officers from particular divisions last year and placed them in units often hit by a Christmastime crime surge, King said.
Authorities see a slight increase in alcohol-related crime during the season.
``Even people who don't normally drink that often usually do during the holidays,' King said. ``Problems can arise from that.'
Asheboro Police Maj. Robert Crutchfield said his department makes every effort to crack down on holiday criminals.
``You are going to always have a bit more shoplifting this time of year,' he said. ``... We certainly try to pick up our patrols over the holiday season.'
Crutchfield said shopping center parking lots are often the scene of holiday crime, as shoplifters try to score a few presents by breaking into cars.
Like the sheriff's department, Asheboro police will be on the lookout for crimes motivated by alcohol, Crutchfield said.
To avoid being a victim of crime around the holidays, people should remember to keep their doors and windows locked and their keys well hidden, King said.