CLAY COUNTY, Mo. — The Clay County Sheriff's Office is taking a proactive approach to prevent crime in residential neighborhoods in the Northland this holiday season.
For more than 20 years, Clay County deputies have conducted "Operation Happy Holidays" during the winter months.
Deputy Jon Bazzano said it's a way for deputies to make themselves visible in residential areas.
"Not only are we out patrolling neighborhoods and being visible, hopefully neighbors are paying attention," Bazzano said "and hopefully by our presence we're scaring crooks off."
Clay County sheriff's deputies will be on the lookout for burglars, porch pirates and other suspicious activity. They also will focus on making homeowners aware of their own vulnerabilities.
"We're looking for open garage doors, anything that makes someone vulnerable," Bazzano said. "If we see an open garage door, we'll stop and go try to knock on the door and say, 'Hey, we noticed your garage door is open, you might think about closing it,'" Bazzano said.
One of the best ways for people to help law enforcement do their job is by reporting crimes they fell victim to, as well as anything suspicious, according to Bazzano.
"Don't feel ashamed or embarrassed that you're gonna bother us," Bazzano said. "That's what we're here for. We want to come out. Most importantly, we want to find out who did this and try to get your stuff back to you."
Bazzano said statistics from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program show crime in Clay County has decreased between 2017 and now.
He said he believes that is, in part, due to law enforcement taking a proactive approach to preventing crime countywide.