Police fan out to protect holiday shoppers

- Black Friday was the major test for Bay Area law enforcement tasked with protecting shoppers during the holiday shopping season.

In Clearwater, police worked from a command center inside a tower over the parking lot at Countryside Mall. They also ran bike and foot patrols with undercover and uniformed officers.

"We're out here. When you don't think we're out here we're out here. We are looking," said Corporal Michael Hatch with Clearwater Police.

Tampa Police covered major malls and shopping centers including Westshore and International Plazas as part of its Operation Secret Santa. The program includes extra patrols of officers on bikes, motorcycles and on foot.

Shoppers say the extra security gives them peace of mind.

"We went into Forever 21 and we kind of saw the security guards there watching for shop lifting. I think that's all good. All measures like that. It can't hurt," said shopper Karen Hadley.

Law enforcement has not reported any major incidents on Black Friday. The increased patrols are set to continue throughout the holiday shopping period.

Officers say shoppers can help buy using common sense practices like locking car doors and using credit cards instead of cash.

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