The holiday season is well underway, with its inherent fast-paced lifestyle of hustle and bustle and the holiday preparations that occupy our thoughts and actions. During this hectic time, it is easy to forget the basics of safety both at home and in public places. The season of giving should not mean the season of unwillingly giving to unintended recipients such as thieves and robbers. Here are a few tips to prevent you from becoming a victim this holiday season:
When shopping, always park in well-lighted areas, and as close as possible to the entrance to the store. Always lock your car, even if you are away from it for only a short time.
Shop with a friend or family member. There is strength in numbers.
Be aware of your surroundings. Talking or texting on your media device takes concentration and makes you vulnerable to thieves by taking your attention away from your immediate surroundings.
Don’t flash cash. This is the fastest way to get the attention of a thief or robber who is looking for an opportunity to strike. If you must carry a handbag, make the straps as short as possible and keep the handbag close to your body. A concealed Fanny Pack or wallet is a better alternative. Bring with you only the credit cards you intend to use. Leave the others at home in a secure place.
When your shopping is done, pay attention to the parking lot. People loitering are a potential threat. If you feel uneasy about walking to your car, return to the store and request an escort from security.
Do not remotely unlock your car door until you are ready to enter it. Once inside your car, lock all doors and do not open them to anyone in a parking lot or parking garage.
Do not leave purchases in plain view inside your car whether you are present or away. Remove the temptation by stowing purchases in the trunk, or beneath a blanket or other concealment in an SUV. It takes a thief mere seconds to break a window and enter your car.
At home, crime prevention is just as important, possibly more so, as the consequence of losses are magnified. Here are some preventive measures to consider:
Leave lights turned on outside your residence after dark. Criminals do not like well-lighted areas.
Gifts should not be placed under a tree before Christmas, as anyone peering into your home can take inventory.
If you will be away from home for an extended period, ask a trusted neighbor to gather your mail and newspaper for you. Accumulated mail and newspapers are a dead giveaway that you are not home. Consider timers on interior light to give the impression the home is occupied.
With a little preventive caution, we can all enjoy a safe and wonderful holiday season. Happy Holidays!
John Vander-Werff of Copperas Cove is a retired police officer with more than 30 years of service, including 20 years with the state police and nearly 15 years in city police departments.