By Shelli DeRobertis
COAST CITIES — Deputies, city staff members and volunteers are working the streets and busy shopping centers as part of Sheriff Bill Gore’s Holiday Watch that aims to keep citizens safe and reduce crime during the holiday season.
The countywide program began Nov. 25 and ends on New Year’s Day, and includes operations scheduled at various locations where services such as foot and bike patrol, curfew sweeps, door-to-door contact with business owners, DUI checkpoints and staffed temporary command posts offer extra visibility to shoppers, especially.
Veronica Martinez works the crime prevention unit for the city of San Marcos and helps hand out material on preventing crime at a table set up at the Nordahl Marketplace, which has a Wal-Mart and other large retailers on Highway 78 and Nordahl Road.
“Sometimes we’ll be on foot and talk to people,” she said. “We’re trying to be very proactive.”
For nearly 12 hours each day there are senior volunteers patrolling parking lots at three of the city’s major shopping centers, and also deputies and a crime prevention team at the sites, according to the Sheriff’s Department, San Marcos Station.
On Nov. 25, “Black Friday,” the Sheriff’s Vista Station conducted a warrant sweep that resulted in 17 arrests that varied from theft to driving while intoxicated.
That sweep operation was combined with a command post located at the 1800 block of University Drive in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
The command post included a public information campaign where crime prevention specialists discussed ways people can combat crime during the holiday season.
One reminder that is repeated by authorities is that valuables shouldn’t be left visible inside of vehicles, but instead placed in the trunk or hidden from view.
The Encinitas Sheriff’s Station began its crime prevention campaign Dec. 7, and on certain days throughout the month shoppers in various locations can expect to see extra deputies on foot patrol, fliers on cars and a table display of information, including a mobile laptop with crime statistics.
The FBI San Diego Division also reminds holiday shoppers to be cautious of cyber fraud and use the following tips to help prevent becoming a victim of possible identity theft:
— If you are requested to act quickly or told there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
— Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
— Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
— Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
— Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
— Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
— Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
— Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.