The holidays are an exciting time of year, filled with family, friends and memories that last a lifetime. The men and women of the Marana Police Department are doing all we can to ensure that those good times aren’t spoiled by people with bad intentions.

As we have for the past two decades, we are increasing our vehicle and foot patrols in high-traffic shopping areas. Anyone who has spent time in businesses along Cortaro, Ina and Thornydale roads has likely seen officers making their rounds to increase safety during the hectic shopping season. Our heightened efforts will continue through the holidays.

The feedback we receive for these efforts has been nothing but positive. Our residents and business owners know why we’re out there: the holidays present many opportunities for criminals to take things that don’t belong to them. When we deter a shoplifter in a store or person breaking into a car in the parking lot, we are making sure this remains a season of giving, not taking.

Shoppers can also play a role in keeping the holidays safe. Criminals usually pick a target and observe to assess weaknesses. They test a target for accessibility and defense capabilities. Then, they act.

There are several proactive ways to avoid becoming a victim now or any time of year.

•Remain alert in crowded places like parking lots, jammed aisles and elevators.

•Shop with family or friends, if possible. If someone makes you uncomfortable or the situation doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and leave.

•Carry a purse close to the body and hold it tight. Do not hold it by the straps.

•If you have a number of packages from one store, put them in your trunk before you arrive at the next store or restaurant. Don’t put your packages in the trunk after you arrive because someone could be watching.

•Don’t leave personal items in your vehicle in plain sight. This includes money (even loose change), credit cards, cell phones, purses and GPS units.

•Never leave doors unlocked or windows open.

•If you see anything suspicious, call 911.

The Marana Police Department wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We look forward to seeing you at our local stores and restaurants this month.

Terry Rozema has been Marana’s Chief of Police since December 2010.

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