Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The Columbia Police Department launched a new initiative to help keep businesses safe, especially as we hit the holiday season.
"I saw the presence of the officers a lot more and the little blue lights in the parking lot. And I felt a lot more secure," Yvonne Gaines said.
Gaines owns a hair salon in the East Pointe Plaza off Garners Ferry Road. When she was scouting out a place, safety was the number one concern.
She's been robbed before.
"It was myself and four clients, they put us all on the floor with the guns to our heads," Gaines said.
Columbia Police officers are hitting the pavement to prevent similar crimes at other stores in strip malls.
Lt. Ron Felder says they're a prime target for armed robberies.
"A lot of strip malls cater to small amount of people who are going to be in the store," Felder said. "That would-be robber would say, 'I may not get caught or a lot of people won't get a good description of me because it's not a lot of people in there."
During this patrol, Felder and another officer made their way around two plazas talking to owners of stores that may be targeted because they have valuables or large sums of cash.
Felder says even when businesses think they're secured, it may not be the best.
"You want to make sure you get a good shot from the torso up and now what we're seeing on a lot of these cameras is a lot of head shots, but you don't get a clear facial vision," Felder said.
Since Gaines was robbed, she's taken more safety precautions.
But, she says it's never a bad thing to be reminded.
"It's good for them to come in like they did today and give us even more steps to take to double-check to reinforce what we already know we're supposed to do," Gaines said.
CPD says they'll be making their way to many more plazas in the coming weeks.
They're offering store owners free safety checks as well.