MANATEE COUNTY- Holiday Shopping is starting to ramp up, and holiday crime is sure to follow. Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is providing giant, flashing warnings for would be shop lifters this holiday season.

“This is a friendly reminder that if you participate in retail theft,” Warren said. ‘Then you will get a free sleigh ride to the jail.”

Operation Sleigh Ride is part of the Sheriff’s Office annual effort to protect shoppers and businesses.

“There is a lot of money that is lost every year for the retailers,” Warren said. “It’s a crime, they don’t want this to continue, and we’re going to work closely with these retailers to be able to make these arrests and send a message.”

The Sheriff’s Office will be increasing patrols in and around retail shopping areas over the next few weeks.

“Some are inside that are in covert plain clothes,” Warren said. “Then you have some that are uniformed, we’ve got people doing patrol in the parking lots, you may see our mounted patrol in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas.”

And if you’re out shopping there are simple things you can do to protect yourself.

“Lock your vehicle,” Warren said. “Pay attention to whose maybe watching you or following you, put your packages out of sight, take precautions so you don’t become a victim on crime.”

And Shoplifters… Don’t say the Sheriff’s Office didn’t warn you.

“You’re going into one of these shopping areas,” Warren said. “And this is flashing right in your face that retail theft is a crime, and that it can result in you being arrested.”