Ah, the holiday blues, they are catching.

What are the holiday blues? They are a feeling of loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiety or a combination of all of these that may occur in and around the holiday season.

For most of us, the holidays are a joyful, magical time of year. For others, particularly the unemployed, the single soldier, some single-parent households and those for whom the holidays bring stress and unhappiness, the season isn’t so magical.

Financial pressures, unrealistic expectations and friction within the family all contribute to the holiday blues.

For some, the inability to cope with depression, loneliness and unhappiness brought on by the holidays can easily lead to the commission of crime in all categories.

At this time of year, assaults and thefts historically peak. These crimes, particularly thefts, are not committed by affluent and stable family-oriented citizens, but by those who, for a myriad of reasons, haven’t the wherewithal to provide family and friends with tangible gifts, which are expected for the holidays. To some of these folks, the only avenue available is theft, including robbery and shoplifting.

If these down-and-outters would only lift up their heads and see the generosity of Central Texans, particularly during the yule season, despair and unhappiness would surely wane — given the availability of children’s toys, meals, clothing and subsistence assistance, which are all offered by area churches, veterans organizations and organizations such as the Salvation Army for the asking.

There is no logical need for committing criminal acts to obtain these gifts. There is no shame in asking for help. What is required is a mature, responsible attitude toward life and livelihood. Consider the shame of committing crime as an alternative to asking for help.

It isn’t only the unfortunate who choose to commit crimes during the holiday season. There are the career criminals who would rather victimize you than wish you happy holidays.

Criminals love the holiday season as much or more than the average citizen. It is a time for personal enrichment at the expense of hard-working folks like you and me. For these, there should be no helping hands of generosity — only police, the courts and the penal system.

As a single soldier in Europe for many years, the holidays were depressing and a bit lonely for me until I accepted the fact that the holidays are what you make of them, regardless of where you are. One can relieve the loneliness by becoming engaged in local activities offered by churches and local veterans organizations, the Salvation Army, just to name a few of the venues. There are many such organizations in central Texas. There are ways to cope.

For the single soldier, the single parent or the newcomer, stress and loneliness can be lessened by becoming a part of the local culture. Participate in holiday activities. Donating to charities or collecting donations for them is a great way to be an integral part of the holiday spirit.

There have been many studies regarding the effect of seasons on crime. Most of them involve the correlation of darkness as opposed to light.

Earlier darkness in the winter months gives criminals more obscurity than they enjoy during hours of daylight.

I could endorse that hypothesis if it weren’t for the historical spike in property crimes that occurs annually during the peak summer months.

Personally, I believe criminals, particularly those who commit crimes as a way of life, do not rely on any specific time of year to engage their trade.

The only inducement career criminals need is the availability of suitable prey.

During the holidays, the herds of prey increase exponentially in and around shopping venues, giving criminals increased opportunity for success.

Additionally, folks typically carry larger sums of cash during the holidays, making a score all the more tempting.

The best deterrent to holiday crime is you. Being logical, thoughtful and careful will go along way toward keeping you from being victimized.

John Vander WERFF is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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