Law enforcement expects rise in crime as holiday season approaches, offers tips to keep you safe

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – The holidays are a busy time for everyone, including criminals.

© Provided by Baton Rouge WAFB Law enforcement officers urge people to be extra aware of their surroundings, as they expect a rise in crime as the holiday season approaches.

According to an eyewitness, a man entered the T-Mobile store on O’Neal Lane on Tuesday, Nov. 2, with a gun in his hand. The customer, who did not want to be identified, said everything happened in an instant.

“This man walks in the store, comes closer to us, and asked a sales rep for a phone case,” said the woman. “I turned around, saw a gun in his hand, and I just froze.”

The customer said nobody was hurt and the man ran out of the store after grabbing a phone out of a display case. She added she was left stunned but the whole scene opened her eyes to a bigger issue as we head into the holiday season.

“I didn’t feel threatened at all by his demeanor, so whenever I realized what happened, I was more so shocked and disappointed that somebody would put our safety at risk for a few bucks,” she explained.

The Baton Rouge Police Department said crimes like robberies, burglaries, and thefts are more likely to happen around this time of year because there is more opportunity as stores stock up on new items and homes and cars are filled with new purchases.

Some shoppers in Baton Rouge said they try to stay alert whenever they go shopping.

“I would say on a scale of 10, I’m a 4,” said Martina Cotton. “I don’t feel completely safe. I try to stay vigilant but it’s not as easy as it seems.”

A recent study in 2020 ranked Louisiana as one of the top 5 worst states for holiday crime but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

Sgt. L’Jean McKneely Jr. with BRPD urges people to try to have a plan whenever they go out.

“You don’t have to do a strategic plan but you can have a mental note in your mind of what you’re going to do,” said McKneely.

This includes being aware of your surroundings at all times by staying off your phone when you’re in a parking lot. Plus, there’s safety in numbers. Use the buddy system and travel with more than one person.

Also, police say if the suspect tells you they are armed, believe them. Do not put your life at risk. McKneely said these are tips everyone should keep in mind.

“You think about when you wake up in the morning. You ask yourself what you’re going to do today and make that a part of your plan. It’ll then become a habit and once it becomes a habit, there’ll be nothing to it,” explained McKneely.

Shoppers, like Shekeita Porter, plan to do just that.

“It’s very important because you never know what’s going to happen,” said Porter.

BRPD has a plan in place to increase officer presence as Black Friday and Christmas get closer. McKneely added the plan will include more cops on the street and officers in plain clothes patrolling several shopping areas.

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