Martinsville Police increase patrol at shopping centers for holiday season

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) With the holiday shopping season in full swing, police in Martinsville say they've seen an uptick in crimes near retail centers.

After looking at shoplifting statistics in the city, officers recently stepped up their patrols around shopping centers.

Police have set up a mobile command unit at one of the shopping centers in town.

Plus, as an added security measure, officers are making an appearance in most stores in the city every day.

"We just want to help out the people, as well as the businesses, to make certain that they're feeling safe during the holiday shopping season," says Martinsville Police Deputy Chief, Rob Fincher.

The officers aren't just driving around the shopping centers.

"They go in to the stores, walk around, speak with the employees, say hello to the shoppers. That way they know that the officers are there," says Fincher.

They're parking their cars and going into store, after store, to make sure their presence is known.

"I spend a lot of my time just out on foot, speaking with residents that are shopping," says Martinsville Police Sgt. C.B. Bell.

The police department prides itself on its community policing, so not only does this prevent shoplifting, but it also works towards the community policing effort.

"Once they figure out what we're doing and what we're there for, it's nice that they get to see us out of the car and actually speak to us," says Bell.

So far, most people seem to appreciate the added security.

"Business owners love it. The Shoppers love it, and our officers like it too because they like to get out of the car every now and then," says Fincher.

Another good thing to note about this is that the department received grant money to pay for extra overtime.

So, officers can come in on their days off to do the shopping center patrol at no cost to the citizens.