MONROE -- 'Tis the season for the holidays and unfortunately, the crooks that come with it.
The week of Black Friday is here - which also means the kick-off to the busy holiday shopping season, but it's also a time of year when police see an up-tick in robberies.
The Twin Cities serve as a hub for shoppers in the region. Local police anticipate a major shopping crowd and a major crack down on the bad guys.
"For whatever reason, this time of year, bad guys will put a gun and a mask on and start sticking people up and/or stores," said Sgt. Mark Johnson with the Monroe Police Department.
Monroe Police urge shoppers to be alert and for stores to have surveillance in tip-top shape.
"It's that time of the year, for whatever reason, economy, people down, whatever it is, there's a lot of pressure on folks."
If you become a robbery victim, police say cooperate with the criminal.
"Give these people whatever it is, let them go away. Whatever it is you've got can be replaced...Nothing is worth losing your life on this thing," said Johnson.
And be the best witness you can be for police by getting height, weight, color of the eyes, clothing description, and vehicle description.
Police suggest to shop with a friend -- don't be afraid to ask security or a store associate to escort you to your car.
"Bad guys don't like groups. They like to overwhelm folks one on one," said Johnson.
Be careful when loading your holiday finds and other items in plain view in your parked car. Remember -- "Out of sight, out of mind."
"Hide them, cover them up, put them in the trunk, and if you can't do that, it may sound like a little bit of a hassle, but take them home, dump them off, and come back and take another run at it," said Johnson.
Starting this week, law enforcement like Monroe Police are deploying undercover police in plainclothes. They're doubling the amount of coverage to patrol major parking lots and shopping centers.
"We're going be doing deterrence, but we want to catch some of these guys, too," Johnson said.
Finally -- police want folks to remember the reason for the season. Don't get violent over the deals this Black Friday.
"A crime is a crime is a crime. If there's people out there who think its worthy battering, or hitting people, or being crazy and fighting folks, then the police will have to take action," Johnson said.
Johnson said these tips apply to the rest of the year, too. Louisiana State Police will also have extra patrols this Thanksgiving week, enforcing Click It Or Ticket.
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