Police are increasing their patrols around Greater Shepparton in a bid to protect vulnerable businesses who have had to cease trading due to COVID-19.
Operation Eastern Shield kicked off on Friday night with the aim of increasing the police presence in industrial areas that are now seeing less foot traffic.
While dozens of businesses around town have been forced to shut their doors to customers, Crime Prevention Officer Leading Senior Constable Glenn Gibson said the operation was vital to protect those premises.
“With locations shutting down and there being no staff movements, these businesses are definitely more vulnerable,” he said.
“We will be increasing patrols over night shift and after normal business hours.”
Sen Const Gibson urged business owners who were closing on a temporary basis to have a good think about what they kept inside their stores during this time.
He encouraged people to remove all cash from the building, along with any valuable items located inside safes, and to leave cash registers open so that people knew nothing was being stored inside.
Sen Const Gibson said putting a sign in the front window telling people no cash was stored at the premises was another step business owners could take.
“For temporary shut-downs think about what needs to stay on the property so . . . that if someone does break in they see nothing is there,” he said.
“Existing security measures should also keep operating including CCTV and alarms.”
Sen Const Gibson also reminded business owners to get in touch with the security firm that patrolled their building and let it know the business was not operating.
Continuing communication with them and other businesses in the area is also something he urged locals to do.
“Keep an eye out for one another and report any suspicious behaviour to police,” Sen Const Gibson said.
“If people see anything suspicious let us know and we can investigate it further.”