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New report reveals crimes at most popular local malls

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Updated: 11/26/2013 11:44 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Holiday shoppers can be easily distracted, making them prime targets for criminals.

Every year, Anthony Rodriguez lines up early outside local stores. From there, he's seen all kinds of criminal acts including pick-pocketing, car break-ins and the sale of fake goods from car trunks.

“They’re in and out of every local shopping center, anywhere you go.”

JSO Officer Shannon Hartley says criminals see opportunity when shoppers guards are down, distracted by traffic and crowds.

“There are people out looking to take advantage of people who are buying large amounts of presents and gifts.”

Action News pulled the number of criminal acts committed at Duval County's four largest shopping areas between November 25 and December 31 of 2012. Thefts were most often reported, followed by assaults, burglaries, fraud, and vandalism.

Those numbers don't surprise Rodriguez, who is also a cop.

“Criminals will stoop to anything to make an easy buck.”

He's also seen police and mall security already keeping a close eye out for criminals this year.

But Hartley says they need your help to catch them in the act.

“We're looking for any suspicious activity particularly in the parking lots, but if you see anything suspicious, try to remember details like facial hair, clothing, and vehicle information. That will help us bring them to justice.”

To report suspicious activity, you can contact mall security, call JSO at 904-630-0500 or 911 in an emergency. You can also call Crime Stoppers 1-866-845- TIPS.

Crimes Reported By Mall

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River City Marketplace: 22
St. Johns Town Center: 20
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St. Johns Town Center: 1
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River City Marketplace: 4
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FBI Warning

The FBI has also issued the following tips for shopping safely online this holiday season:

Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.

Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.

Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.

Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.

Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.

Log on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.

Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.

If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
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