OGDEN -- 'Tis the season to be cautious as not all are out to spread good cheer, but rather out to steal from unsuspecting shoppers, says Ogden Police.
The holiday season is a time for thieves out to target people and the gifts they buy, but police are trying a new tactic to cut down on shoplifting and vehicle burglaries.
In the parking lot of the Newgate Mall, Christmas shoppers may have noticed a small trailer bearing the Ogden Police insignia and displaying flashing blue lights.
The surveillance trailer is equipped with cameras that remotely feed back to the Ogden Police Department for officers to have eyes on the Newgate parking lot for any Grinches.
Deputy Director John Harvey said the mere presence of the trailer is enough to discourage crime and said they have already seen reported shopliftings cut in half.
In 2012 there were 19 reported shopliftings at the mall during December, while this year there has so far been six, with four of those occurring before the trailer was brought over, Harvey said.
Harvey got the idea from his old police department in Memphis, Tenn., where he worked previously.
Harvey said he hopes that after the cut in crime at the Newgate Mall, the city will purchase more trailers to place in other hot spots around town. Some of those trailers could even have better technology such as solar power.
Year after year, stats have shown that there is a spike of theft crimes around the holiday season.
Another hot spot for thieves is the Walmart at 20th Street and Wall Avenue. The Junction seems to have less crime due to the high amount of visible surveillance cameras, he said.
Harvey said that Christmas shoppers become targets for thieves who will often wait around in the parking lot looking for people who bring their purchased goods to their vehicle, then return to the store for more shopping.
Police advise shoppers to never do this, as these Christmas thieves operate in a predatory fashion, swooping in when the coast is clear to check for locked doors and even break in using a slim jim car opener.
Harvey started the "Stow it, Don't Show It," campaign to make people aware that they are being watched by thieves, and that being cautious and using common sense can prevent a robbery.
Leaving visible items in the car, even loose change on the console, is enough to lure a thief to break in, Harvey said.
Shopping in the evening may be a good way to beat the crowds, but shoppers should be aware of the risk that robbers thrive in the dark.
Another common habit that can result in vehicle burglary is warming up the car in the morning, Harvey said.
"It's nice to come out to a warm car where the defrosters have cleaned the windshield, but people have to know that robbers are out there looking for that," he said.
Harvey said that the trailer is not the only police presence around the mall, as a patrolman is always close by monitoring the big shopping season. Harvey hopes that the people they are trying to protect will also act as extra eyes and ears if they immediately report any suspicious people.
While the trailer has cut down crime at the mall, Harvey said police are still seeing crime go up in other places, meaning that thieves are being pushed into the surrounding areas. It's an unfortunate trend, but Harvey said police will continue making sure that these Christmas thieves end up on the naughty list.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SE_Andreas.