Local News

Durham Police Offer 'Blue Light Special' For The Holidays

Posted November 23, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Shoppers are not the only ones who need to watch their backs. Retail stores have become targets for crime during the holiday rush.

Over the next few days, Durham police will rotate throughout several Durham shopping centers in two-hour shifts in "Operation Blue Light Special." Sgt. Maurice Hayes of the Durham Police Department says he hopes their high profile sends Christmas stalkers elsewhere.

"If a person is going to commit a criminal act, or if they see a police car in the area for a long period of time, then they are going to leave the area," he says.

Store managers say they welcome the extra holiday help.

"As crime increases during the holiday, we are happy to have the police here," says Michael Johnson, store manager.

Durham police say they plan to continue the operation until the end of the weekend. If the operation is successful, it may be extended through December.

The National Retail Security Survey shows stores lost $29 billion in merchandise last year. Employees were blamed for 44 percent of theft, and shoplifters accounted for about 33 percent.

In addition, malls now say the day after Thanksgiving is no longer considered the busiest shopping day of the year. The Saturday before Christmas now holds that title.