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With just four days to Christmas, malls and other commercial districts have been seeing less traffic than usual.

It comes as little surprise. The job losses and salary reductions that followed lockdowns required to address COVID-19, have dampened purchasing power.

Some simply cannot afford to buy the goodies and gifts they’ve been accustomed to with what they currently have.

Yet, there are those who see the season as a time to lift spirits within their own homes and the homes of friends and family who have suffered financially this year. Those who suffered little this year have had little reason to shop less and will make up the brunt of the spenders this Christmas.

And then there is another grouping of people to whom Christmas is a time of plenty ‘business’—the criminals among us.

For years, criminologists, police and statistics have told us that the weeks between Christmas to Carnival tend to see an uptick in break-ins, robberies and larcenies. Those minded toward illegal activity make little distinction between those struggling through COVID and those who are not. They only see opportunities and pounce on them.

Over the years, police have made it clear malls and shopping districts are prime targets for car thefts, robberies and grab-and-run bandits. These days, therefore, call for far more awareness by shoppers than usual.

The tips given by law enforcers each year must not be overlooked, including not leaving valuable items visible in vehicles, paying close attention to surroundings when heading to cars, keeping handbags close to the body and wearing little jewellery.

Police have often spoken of cases in which bandits park several rows away to give drivers a sense of safety before following them and attacking them at the closest traffic light, relieving them of their vehicles.

With home invasions and break-ins happening more regularly, ASP Roger Alexander recently advised against putting empty boxes of expensive items outside where all can see. As he put it, the box of a 55-inch television placed for garbage collectors can make the house a bigger target for bandits.

Against this backdrop, we are heartened that police have already rolled out anti-crime plans for shopping hotspots that will see heightened patrols with extra attention on banks.

In cases where people believe they are being followed, police suggest they go to the nearest police station or alert a nearby officer. Police have also said those on patrols will provide an extra check on those flouting COVID regulations.

We ought not to take their jobs for granted, as these officers continue to put themselves between us and the criminals, and also between those whose actions would spread the virus.

We offer them our full support and encourage shoppers and proprietors alike, to aid them by adhering to the safety tips they’ve provided.

While we will not bow to criminals, at a time when bandits are appearing more brazen, ‘tis the season to be cautious.