Shopping in Downtown this holiday season? Similar to recent years past, you will again be seeing additional police officers patrolling the area. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) through Christmas week, police officers and other department personnel will be monitoring and patrolling activities both on and around the Third Street Promenade. In order to give the best possible service, the SMPD has joined forces with local merchants and Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. to try and minimize crime during your holiday shopping experience.

In addition to increased traffic enforcement, you may also see uniformed police officers making periodic checks by walking through some of your favorite retail establishments. Undercover police officers will also be keeping an eye out for shoplifters and organized retail theft.

The extra police presence inside stores and in Downtown is in no way reflective of any safety issues for you or your family. It is the intent of the SMPD to try and deter shoplifting by would-be criminals. Retail theft is something that affects all of us and has a significant impact on the prices we have to pay for merchandise. Organized retail crime costs retailers over $30 billion a year, according to the FBI. Those costs end up being passed on to us, the consumers.

Unfortunately, we cannot be everywhere at all times and we ask that you do your part in helping us to reduce crime. Please review these few steps on how you can help:

• Be aware of your surroundings. If you see a crime in progress, call 911. If you see something or someone acting suspiciously, call our dispatch at (310) 458-8491. If you are unable to call us, flag down any of our police personnel, one of the Downtown Ambassadors, or a local merchant.

• Always lock your car and close your windows. Do not leave anything of value in plain sight that can be seen from outside the car. Would-be car burglars are constantly looking for reasons to break into cars. Secure all of your valuables in your trunk before you park Downtown. Or even better, leave valuables at home.

• While shopping, keep your purse or wallet closed and do not leave your wallet or cash visible. Never leave your purse or other belongings unattended, even for a moment.

• Teach your children to stay close to you. Also teach them that if you are separated, to go to a store clerk or security guard. In addition, make sure your child knows their full name, their address and your phone number to give to the police or security if they become lost.

• When securing your bicycle, we strongly recommend a “U” type lock versus a cable or chain type lock. “U” locks are much more difficult for thieves to break or cut. In addition, both parking structures attached to Santa Monica Place mall have new Bike Centers with hundreds of spots available to secure your bicycle while you shop.

In addition to criminal activity, be aware that there will be a great increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic this shopping season. Please take some of the below listed suggestions in ensuring that pedestrian and traffic safety is also at the top of your list:

• While walking, always cross at an intersection, and make eye contact with drivers before stepping into the street in front of cars. In addition, always hold onto children’s hands as drivers may see you but not your little ones.

• Drivers should slow down to avoid collisions and allow extra time to find a parking spot. Bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as those driving a car. Give pedestrians the right of way and slow down.

• Lastly, we all need to have patience, patience and more patience. Drivers and bicyclists should always give the right of way, especially to pedestrians. Pedestrians should never insist on the right of way, because they will never win in a collision with a car or bicycle.

We have every intention of doing everything we can to ensure everyone has a safe and crime-free holiday season. We sincerely hope you take to heart the above mentioned safety tips and many others that are available on our website at, santamonicapd.org.

From all of us at the Santa Monica Police Department, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Happy holidays!

This column was prepared by Neighborhood Resource Officer Jeff Glaser (Beat 3: Downtown, including the Third Street Promenade). He can be reached at (424) 200-0683 or jeffrey.glaser@smgov.net.

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