Operation Christmas Presence puts holiday shoppers at ease

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Operation Christmas presence aims at reducing crimes while keeping your purchases safe.

While people are out here taking advantage of all these Black Friday deals patrols are hard at work ensuring that shoppers and their items stay safe through Operation Christmas Presence.

By horse, bike and even up high patrols are ensuring that shoppers and their purchases get home safely this holiday season.

Corporal Matthew Pap said, "Anywhere there is a lot crowds, a lot of traffic, a lot of opportunity for criminals to be out there, that is where we want to be doing high visibility patrol."

Operation Christmas Presence has been operating for more than 20 years now.

It reduces crime by adding extra patrols to major shopping centers like River Park, Manchester Mall, and Fashion Fair Mall.

A mix of mall security, volunteers, and reserve officers are protecting shoppers. Corporal Mathew Pap is part of the mounted patrol unit.

"The horses give us a great advantage, as you can see we are up a lot higher and we can see over the cars. It gives us a great vantage point over the whole parking lot," explained Corporal Pap.

And it is these units that are making shoppers feel much more secure.

Alex Camargo said, "You know it is great to have the enforcement out and watching over us. It makes us feel really safe."

The extra security also means a lot more to shoppers like Lisa Curtis, who had her car broken into six years ago on Black Fridays.

"We had been shopping until midnight and we went to a Dennys down the street from here and we came back out and there was like five of us in my car and everything we had bought was stolen," said Curtis.

Other shoppers have also had similar experiences.

Melissa Kiggens said, "I was with my sister in law a few years ago and her car got broken into. A lot of things got taken and hopefully, that won't happen know."

While the extra patrols help keep criminals away officers say shoppers also need to do their part.

"Criminals are looking for the easiest target. You do not have to be the most secure vehicle, but do not be the least secure at the same time. Hide your packages, keep your doors locked and park in well-lit areas if you are shopping at night," Pap said.

And apart from having more than 100 officers patrolling malls this year, Fresno Police will also be monitoring River Park via live feeds.

Operations Christmas Presence will be going on until the end of the shopping season.
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