Cobb sheriff’s fugitive apprehension team patrolling malls through Christmas

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Christmas is just days away, and metro Atlanta malls are packed with last-minute shoppers.

In Cobb County, the sheriff’s office has increased its presence at Cumberland Mall, at Town Center Mall and at the shopping centers nearby.

Sheriff Craig Owens assigned his FAST unit to patrol the area.

“They stand for the fugitive apprehension and support team. They handle a lot of high risk warrants. They work traffic,” said Sgt. Jeremy Blake.

The presence at the popular Cobb County shopping areas started last week. The extra patrol will run through the holidays.

“If someone was thinking about committing a crime, they see a deputy’s car go by, they know we’re out here and we’re watching,” said Blake. “Down Barrett Parkway and anywhere in that Cumberland area, you’ll see both our FAST team and deputies assigned to uniform patrol.”

The sheriff’s office says it is not aware of any threats.

Channel 2′s Chris Jose looked through police reports from Cumberland and Town Center districts. From Black Friday through Dec. 21, crime statistics from Cobb police show more than three dozen reported incidents at the malls and shopping centers within a half-mile radius. Most were shoplifting and theft reports.

Shoppers told Jose they appreciate the added presence from the sheriff’s office.

“When people see the badge or see the lights, they stop,” said LeShon Bell.

“It’s the holiday season and you can never be too safe. Just to have them around protecting us and making sure everything is okay, it makes me feel good,” added Nicole Wallace.

The sheriff’s office is reminding shoppers to practice safe habits while they are out.

Do not leave packages in plain sight in your vehicle, always lock your car doors, do not leave vehicles running unattended, and remember where you parked.

“We want shoppers here in Cobb County to have a safe experience,” Blake said. “This time of year, these are your crimes of opportunity.”