How #OperationGrinchStop aims to stop thieves in their tracks

Short, memorable holiday-themed video skits is one way the Mesa Police Department is spreading the holiday crime prevention message this year


By Commander Aaron Spicer

You would likely be hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard of the Dr. Seuss character “The Grinch” from the mid-century holiday story "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

The Grinch – a cynical, green pot-bellied creature with a heart that is three sizes too small – steals holiday decorations and gifts from residents in the fictional town of Whoville. 

It is not a stretch to draw some comparison between The Grinch and a modern-day vehicle burglar who opportunistically steals from residents in the community.

Although vehicle burglaries are nothing new, the latest trend of “car hopping” is on the rise in parts of one Arizona community. “Car hopping” refers to thieves stealing valuables from multiple vehicles in the same area, quickly moving from one vehicle to another. These thieves usually work in pairs or in a small group and target unlocked or unsecured vehicles. By trying car door handles or searching for unsecured items within a truck bed or even around a home, thieves look for anything of value to steal, from spare change to electronics or even firearms. 

Conventional “lock your car” crime prevention messaging is one strategy aimed at vehicle owners; however, short, memorable holiday-themed video skits, affectionally called #OperationGrinchStop, is another way the Mesa Police Department is spreading the holiday crime prevention message this year. 

#OperationGrinchStop is a joint effort between the Mesa Police Department Public Information Office (PIO) and various patrol and crime prevention units within the department. 

Each of the first four videos features “The Grinch” committing some type of theft along with a crime prevention awareness message reminding residents to lock vehicles or secure open garages and property around the home. In the final video, “The Grinch” is caught red-handed and arrested by uniformed officers. 

It is too early to say what impact #OperationGrinchStop will have on crime, but the Mesa Police Department is committed to finding innovative ways to improve and enhance crime prevention messaging and community outreach.

Watch all the Grinch videos here.


About the author

Commander Aaron Spicer has 24 years of experience in police work in both Virginia and Arizona. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from Radford University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University and is a graduate of Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command. Commander Spicer is currently assigned to the Mesa Police Department Superstition Division, however, he has experience supervising personnel assigned to patrol, criminal investigations, homicide, special events, photo safety, towing, financial crimes, vehicular crimes, court liaison, community interaction, crime analysis, training, internal affairs, crime prevention and pawn units. Contact him at Aaron.spicer@mesaaz.gov.

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