HOUSTON (KIAH) – The Houston Police Department held a press conference on Friday morning to address safety concerns for shoppers and motorists getting out during the holiday season.

The numbers of robberies tend to rise during the fall holidays. Law enforcement officers say their goal is to provide more holiday patrol in retail shopping centers. Officers will be handing out crime prevention material to citizens in retail areas.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner says, “I don’t want us to hit our panic buttons. You know, but I do want us to be vigilant. I want us to be smart about it. But, I also want us to support our businesses in Houston.”

According to Finner, Houston and Harris County leads the nation in DWI fatalities. He also says there will be more unmarked vehicles on the road this holiday season and the department is committed to finding those individuals who are victimizing people on the roadways and holding them accountable.

Among the Houston Police Department, there were several other agencies in attendance. This includes Harris County Sheriffs Department, Harris County Constables, Park Rangers, METRO Police, and the Department of Public Safety.

Each agency provided some safety tips. First, if you’re out shopping, shop in groups. There’s safety in larger numbers. You should walk with a purpose and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid being on your cell phone.

When walking to your vehicle, have your keys in your hand and lock your doors immediately! If you are alone, feel free to ask for store security to escort you to your vehicle.

For ladies, law enforcement officers suggest trying to avoid carrying a large purse, and if you do keep it close to your body. Should someone grab your purse, do not resist. Your safety is worth more than the replaceable items in the purse.

Lastly, don’t leave valuables and packages in open view inside your vehicle. This is a personal invitation for strangers to break in.

On the other hand, METRO police encourages residents to plan ahead when it comes to transportation, safety, and celebrating during the holidays. To prevent DWIs, METRO is offering free rides on New Year’s Eve.

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