S. Valley police protecting shoppers over holidays

FRESNO, Calif.

Friday afternoon Visalia police arrested a man trying to steal a car here at the Visalia Mall. The arrest was the first for Operation Holiday Safe in the South Valley.

Visalia police arrested 41-year old Valton Gregg just after 1 p.m. on Black Friday. Officers say he was trying to steal a car here in the Visalia Mall parking lot.

After trying to flee from officers Gregg was arrested on charges of attempted vehicle theft.

The incident was the first arrest for Visalia PD's Operation Safe Holiday, which kicked off today and goes on throughout the holiday season.

"What we're doing is flexing some shifts of officers uh bringing in our reserves our volunteers and we're just uh increasing our foot patrol," Sgt. Chris Mclain said.

Sgt. Mclain says officers will also patrol in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles looking for any suspicious activities.

Visalia police had more than a dozen extra officers on hand for Black Friday.

"They'll see increased police units driving in the area officers in the malls and so forth and hopefully that will give them some comfort knowing we're out trying to keep them safe," he said.

"I've heard people getting their cars broken into so definitely I think that's a good idea," Suzanne Archibeque of Visalia said.

Officers are also advising people to not leave valuables in your car. If you have to, the trunk is the safest place.

Action News spoke with shoppers who were glad to hear of the extra security measures.

"I think it makes shoppers feel more confident and comfortable and safe actually," Jill Marks of Visalia said.

"I definitely hope so because there will be a lot of people who will be spending and then they'll have their toys in the cars want to make sure it's nice and safe," Gary Atashkarian of Visalia said.

Also part of Operation Safe Holiday are extra DUI checkpoints and patrols.

Drivers can expect those this weekend and numerous other nights through this holiday season.

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