Most of the calls to police during the holidays are related to larcenies, like someone stealing from a purse or a car, people reporting suspicious people and activity and drivers being locked out of their cars

Additional calls to law enforcement come in over the holiday season, but it’s mainly because there are more people out and about, officials say.

While there are calls about armed robberies and muggings, it’s a relatively small number of the calls received, said Jacksonville Police Department Media Liaison Beth Purcell.

Most of the calls are related to larcenies, like someone stealing from a purse or a car, people reporting suspicious people and activity and drivers being locked out of their cars, Purcell said.

In response to the high call volume that comes alongside the long list of gifts to buy, the Jacksonville Police Department has brought back its Holiday Task Force for the 17th year.

The task force is a proactive approach to deter crime and keep holiday shoppers safe, according to a press release. Teams of officers patrol shopping areas from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31.

It works out to be 70 shifts worked by about 30 officers, said Sgt. Phillip Williams, who coordinated the task force this year. All of the officers work the volunteered hours in addition to their normal work days.

“Proactive patrols of officers in vehicles, bicycles, (and) on foot in the shopping areas is a deterrent to criminal activity. Our goal is safety,” said Chief Mike Yaniero.

High visibility of officers can help deter criminal activity, Williams said, and it takes the cooperation of shoppers and stores to make it a success.

To be proactive as a shopper, the department suggests parking in well-lit areas, concealing all purchases in the trunk, carrying bags and purses in your hands rather than on your shoulders or back and shopping in groups.

For businesses, a Crime Prevention Session is scheduled to be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce, located at 1099 Gum Branch Road in Jacksonville. The session is open to the public, and a membership to the chamber is not required.

Officers from the police department’s Community Policing Division will provide crime prevention information and practical tips for business owners and employees on how to prevent robberies, and how to react if one happens, according to a press release.

A few simple precautions could mean the difference between a holiday spent filling out forms for lost and stolen items and one spent safe and happy with loved ones.

For additional information for the Crime Prevention Session contact the chamber at 910-347- 3141 or JPD’s Community Policing Division Sergeant Dale Silance at dsilance@ci.jacksonville.nc.us or 910-938-6406.