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December 17, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Thieves are easily tempted when people leave bags of gifts in plain sight in their vehicles or display presents under a tree in a front window. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is reminding everyone to be aware of criminals looking for easy targets during the holiday season.

Thieves do their best holiday looting in other people’s homes and vehicles. Their “victory” is even sweeter when doors and windows are left unlocked. 

The Sheriff’s Department is doing its part by planning various Holiday Watch operations throughout the county to keep shoppers safe. The stepped-up patrols include probation checks, undercover operations, horse and bike patrols, drunk driving patrols and juvenile curfew sweeps. They’re also setting up “Sky Watch,” a bullet-proof glass enclosed basket lifted 25 feet up in the air on a crane with a heat-sensing zoom-lens camera to give deputies a better vantage point in shopping center parking lots.

Earlier this month, Sky Watch was deployed at Santee Trolley Square and monitored the parking lots. Sky Watch will be set up on Dec. 13 in Encinitas, and in Santee again on Dec. 18.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) patrols will be taking place Friday and Saturday in Vista, and again next Saturday. DUI patrols will also happen every weekend in Santee.

To see a full schedule of Holiday Watch activities check the Sheriff’s website.

Deputies are distributing holiday shopping crime safety tips in various communities and sending Senior Volunteer Patrol members into shopping centers for high-visibility patrols.

Sheriff’s Senior Volunteer Patrol member Marie Allin said they go to various shopping centers in Poway, park the patrol car right up against the curb and turn on the light bar.

“We talk to people as they’re leaving the stores,” Allin said. “I tell people to keep their packages out of sight and lock their vehicles. I explain to them that this is the time of year that [thieves] break in cars.”

Learn more about how to prevent crime and Sheriff services with this story.

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