MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — Cracking down on criminal activity this holiday shopping season is a priority in Mt. Juliet. “Operation Safe Shopper” kicks off this week, and this year, the police department has added additional technology to catch criminals. 

“Our officers are going to be in unmarked cars, they are also going to be very visible in their marked units, they are going to be walking through the stores looking like a regular shopper, right? In plain clothes watching for any suspicious activity that you may see,” Captain Tyler Chandler explained. 

From ground patrols to eyes in the sky, technology will also help officers in their extra patrols. Mt Juliet’s mobile surveillance trailer is placed in varying parking lots throughout the holidays, and this year, they’ve also added a dozen more license plate recognition cameras, making 50 LPR’s In the city. 

“Which will really help our officers in detecting any criminal element that comes through our community, but what’s also helpful with our license plate recognition is it helps us investigate crime after the fact,” Captain Chandler explained. 

From stolen cars to missing juveniles, the LPRs have already alerted Mt. Juliet officers to more than 170 incidents since they were installed in April 2020. Most recently, they helped nab a shoplifter who Capt. Chandler says ran over a loss prevention worker while fleeing the scene at a local retail store. 

Operation Safe Shopper is concentrated around Mt. Juliet’s I-40 shopping destination, which includes Providence Marketplace as well as the Paddocks shopping development. 

News 2 took a closer look at the crime reports in both areas during the holiday shopping season over the last two years. Paddocks had just over a dozen incidents each year and Providence saw an increase last year to 10 from six in 2019.

“We ultimately want people to feel safe, Mt. Juliet is a very safe community that we see here. You know 99% of the crime that occurs in our community is not from our residents, it’s from the outside in. So, we are going to do everything we can to protect our community, protect our visitors to assure they have a safe visit and shopping experience in our community,” Capt. Chandler said. 

He added that they aren’t taking away from basic patrol but realigning some of their specialized units to focus on the shopping areas.

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“Operation Safe Shopper” officially begins on Thanksgiving.