SCSO: ‘Operation Jingle Bells’ effort to prevent crime in shopping areas underway

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Just in time for the most wonderful time of year, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is on the lookout for grinches looking to prey on holiday shoppers.

This amped-up law enforcement presence around busy shopping areas is an annual operation the sheriff’s office conducts called “Operation Jingle Bells”.

Some of those efforts will be easy to spot and others are hidden in plain sight.

As Memphians start to do their holiday shopping, their heads are on a swivel.

“Because of all the robberies, and the carjacking in all that,” said shopper Katie Frazier. “I mean every time you turn on the news you hear about somebody has a car jacked, shooting in the stores and stuff.”

Some people also have tips for shoppers.

“Don’t be on your phone, check your surroundings or four and after getting out your car and one coming out of the building,” shopper Trish Moore said.

In their annual effort to curb holiday crime, Assistant Chief Deputy Anthony Buckner with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says they’re patrolling businesses in shopping areas by Oak Court Mall, Wolfchase Galleria, Centennial, Winchester and more.

Other efforts include clocking speeding drivers using speed check devices and holiday messaging encouraging shoppers to report any “grinch-like” activity.

Since Nov. 21, deputies have issued more than 300 traffic citations and warnings for things like speeding, almost 60 theft-related warrant arrests, 9 arrests for crimes like shoplifting, almost 30 misdemeanor warrant arrests, and 2 felony arrests.

Shoppers say the increased law enforcement presence is comforting.

“I really appreciate it, it makes me feel safe,” said Frazier. “It makes me feel like I can come out and you know, I won’t feel so afraid of being out especially by myself, being alone.”

Buckner hopes crooks will think twice or face the consequences.

“For those who are going to prey on shoppers, who are going to prey on vehicles, when we spot you, we’re going to arrest you and we’re going to send you to jail,” Assistant Chief Deputy Buckner said. “We want shoppers to feel safe and comfortable and we want businesses to make money.”

The Sheriff’s Office is also working with other law enforcement agencies around the county including Memphis, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown police and Tennessee Highway Patrol.

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