’Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be wary of burglars, thieves, pickpockets, and other holiday grinches. Shoppers are often so busy thinking about all the things that need to occur they fail to be aware of their surroundings. This makes them easy targets.
Opportunity is the criminal's key to the crime. By staying alert and following a few crime prevention tips, you can ensure a holiday season that is happy and safe.
Here are a few pieces of advice for preventing crimes during the holiday season:
- Watch for distractions
- Scan your environment, don’t assume that because there are people there, you are safe and secure
- When you are in a parking lot or garages be alert to someone, who appears to be standing around for no good reason. He or she may be waiting for the opportunity to grab your shopping bags or gifts
- Always park in a well-lit area and park close to the entrance of the store or mall
- Don’t talk on your cell phone when walking to and from your vehicle. Keep your attention on your surroundings
- Don't electronically unlock your vehicle unless you are within door opening distance.
- If you are ready to leave the mall and feel uneasy about entering the parking lot or garage by yourself, stay in the mall and ask for a security escort.
- Do not open your car door to anyone in a parking lot or garage. If you believe you are in danger, call 911 immediately.
- Always lock your doors and windows, even if you are stepping away for just a moment. Theft only takes seconds, not minutes or hours.
- If you are leaving town or will be away long hours, purchase an automatic timer for your lights, television or stereo, so your home does not look vacant.
- Put your mail on hold by visiting your local post office, visiting the USPS.com website or by phone.
- Let your neighbors know you’re leaving (and when you’re coming back). If they hear or see any suspicious activity, they can report it to the police and contact you immediately.
- Be wary of strangers at the door - Whether it’s UPS dropping off a package, a group of carolers, your neighbor delivering cookies, or friends swinging by, it’s crucial to confirm who it is before opening the door. Play it safe by asking who’s there before opening, keeping your door locked even when you’re at home
- Don’t broadcast that you are on vacation, especially on public social media channels
- Burglars know to look for the hidden door key near the front entrance. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead, give the spare key to a trusted neighbor.
- After the holidays, avoid throwing away empty gift boxes from your new computer, Bluetooth speaker, or iPad. Burglars appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside for them to steal. Break the boxes down or cut them up to conceal the items better.
- Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle's trunk. Keep your vehicle's doors locked and windows closed.
- When you return to your vehicle, scan the interior of your car to be sure no one is hiding inside. Check to see if you are being followed.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card when possible.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, "con-artists" may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings
- Never leave children alone in the car or out of your sight
The holiday season is a great time of year and can be very special. It can also be a tragic time of year if you don't take precautions and practice personal safety measures that can help prevent you or your family from being victimized. Schedule family meetings to discuss these crime prevention tips and have a happy holiday.