Sgt. Betiale Hawkings, left, and Police Officer William Greenwood patrol the Market Heights Shopping Center on Saturday evening in Harker Heights.

HARKER HEIGHTS — Police instituted holiday courtesy patrols in Market Heights and at Sam’s Club to help keep holiday shoppers safe.

“It is called our safe shopper program,” said Sgt. Betiale Hawkins, with the Harker Heights Police Department. “We want them to have a safe holiday. We want to have a big presence, so people are safe.”

Just being visible in shopping centers helps deter crime in the area, Hawkins said.

He has been working with the program since it started..

With the holidays, there are crimes of opportunity such as thefts, robbery and burglaries of vehicles, and having the police available makes residents such as Joni and Frank Beqiri feel safer, they said.

“It is sense of security,” said Joni Beqiri, a Harker Heights resident who was shopping Saturday. “Especially, if you’re walking out with bags, a robbery or theft can happen at any time.”

Officers’ presence definitely would help prevent such crimes, she said.

“If something did happen, at least they are right here,” Frank Beqiri said.

The special patrols are not just for residents, Hawkins said. They also benefit businesses.

“It has been a success every year; that is why we keep doing it,” he said. “It’s amazing the feedback we get, and the appreciation we get. But this also is one way for us to show our appreciation for (the businesses and the public).”

Officers also interact with shoppers by helping them to the car if they can and handing out items to children, Hawkins said. Heights police will continue to patrol throughout Market Heights and Sam’s Club until the end of the month.

Even though police are in the area, Hawkins warned shoppers should continue to follow safety measures to prevent theft.

People should lock their vehicles, not leave valuables visible and park in well-lighted areas, he said.

Contact Mason W. Canales at ​ or (254) 501-7474

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