Thursday night is the official start of the holiday shopping season, but it is also the season for thieves and shoplifters.
It is that time of year again, when everyone's looking for those big deals to cross off items on their holiday list. However, the savings certainly don't add up if they fall victim to identity theft, auto burglary or even if a store is targeted by shoplifters.
"This year does see a larger number and increase in retail crimes," said Michelle Koos, spokeswoman for the Overland Park Police Department.
In any case, it will cost people directly or indirectly.
"We are trying to combat that by catching it before it happens and by doing that we can to deter some of the crime," Koos said.
Operation Fraud is an undercover operation the Overland Park police started before the first holiday decoration was hung to get a head start on criminals hoping to cash in.
Part of what it does is put plain-clothes detectives in retail stores to watch for anyone looking for a five-finger discount.
"Criminals want to blend in, and we are going to blend in as well. We are going to catch those crimes and help those stores make those cases," Koos said.
Since October, Operation Fraud has netted 67 arrests, but officers say others need to do their part too.
"Be aware of your surroundings and don't look like a target," Koos said.
Officers also say to keep valuables out of sight and keep car doors locked. Criminals can steal in crowded parking lots just as easy as they can in the store.
"It comes with the season. 'Tis the season, in this case, it's 'tis the season to shoplift," Koos said.
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