CONYERS - DeKalb Police Department has increased patrols at the Mall of Stonecrest in answer to an increase in car break-ins and robberies in the area.
According to DeKalb Police spokeswoman Mekka Parrish, the department has added 10 additional officers to patrol around the south DeKalb County mall in patrol cars, on foot and on bicycles. She said the move is part of a larger community policing strategy by DeKalb County Police Chief Terrell Bolton.
"The overriding goal is to help fight crime and to reduce the fear of crime in that area and to ensure a better business climate in the Stonecrest area, and ultimately to maintain those businesses already there," she said.
The effort is called the Stonecrest Police-Business Initiative and was spurred by crime reports coming from the mall. Parrish said police have received more calls to Stonecrest than any other shopping mall in the county since the first of the year.
DeKalb police responded to 10 robberies at Stonecrest compared to one robbery at Perimeter Mall and two robberies each at North DeKalb Mall and Northlake Mall. South DeKalb Mall had 13 robberies reported this year, Parrish said.
Entering autos and auto theft incidents are also a concern for police at the Mall at Stonecrest. Parrish said police recorded 32 car break-ins at Stonecrest, compared to 24 car break-ins at Perimeter Mall and 14 at South DeKalb Mall.
Stonecrest and South DeKalb malls have had 14 car thefts reported this year, Parrish said.
Stonecrest is the first mall where DeKalb County Police are increasing patrols. Parrish said South DeKalb Mall will be next to have increased patrols.
"They are there to respond more quickly, but more importantly, they are there to be more proactive and be in the area," Parrish said. "Hopefully, with that presence, it will reduce some of the issues that are taking place out there."
Parrish said mall customers should still try to be aware of their surroundings as they visit the area even with the added police patrols. She advised people to prevent becoming a target by placing valuables in car trunks or out of sight in their vehicles.
Shopping in groups also deters criminals, Parrish said. If someone is uneasy to walk alone in the parking lot, they can go with mall security to their cars.
Jay Jones can be reached at email@example.com.