Nov. 25, 2013. Each year during the Christmas shopping season, crime increases. Shoppers may be so busy that they fail to be aware of their surroundings. They become easy targets for criminals. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim.
“Every year we see an increase in break-ins to homes and vehicles around the holidays. Thieves are looking for easy pickings during the Christmas season. Shoppers need to remain alert and aware of their surroundings,” said Chief of Police Dana Crawford.
When you are out remain alert to your surroundings. Be aware of people that appear to be lingering in parking lots. They might be waiting on someone, or they might be waiting to grab your shopping bags or purse.
Here are a few tips to keep you safe while you are out:
- Shop with a partner or group. Shopping in numbers greatly reduces your chances of becoming the target of a crime.
- Park in well-lit areas.
- Keep vehicle doors locked and valuables out of sigh. Don’t make your vehicle a target for criminals!
- Be aware of your surroundings. Crimes can happen anywhere at any time. Be mindful of those around you.
- Report suspicious activity to police. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you feel a person is suspicious.
(Visit www.townofboone.net/departments/police/index.html to see all of our holiday safety tips.)
The criminals aren’t the only ones who are busier during the holiday season. Boone police officers in plain clothes will be out looking for people who are trying to spoil the holiday season.
“Our officers are going to be out looking for the grinches who are trying to steal Christmas,” said. Lt. Danny Houck .
- Stay alert so you don’t allow yourself to be a victim this holiday season.
Before Leaving Home
- Plan your shopping trip carefully. Know where you are going and what routes you will take to get there.
- If possible, arrange for a friend to go shopping with you. There is safety in numbers.
- Let someone know where you are going and what route you will be taking. Additionally, let them know when you expect to return.
- Leave your home secure, engage alarms, and give the appearance that your home is occupied by leaving the lights on in the most frequently used rooms.
- Don’t leave valuable items out in the open. Secure them in closets, safes, etc.
- Always park in well-lit areas.
- Note the location of your vehicle in the parking lot to conveniently return after shopping.
- Always lock all your doors.
- Remove all items, such as radar detectors, laptops, or packages and hide them in the trunk, glove compartment, out of sight.
- Avoid parking near vans or other vehicles with covered cargo areas.
- Avoid carrying large handbags. Carry only what is necessary.
- Look around the parking lot for suspicious persons before you exit your vehicle.
- Don’t get out of your vehicle until you are ready. If you don’t feel safe, stay in the car or drive away.
- Keep your money and credit cards in your front pocket and try to limit the number of credit cards and cash you’re carrying while shopping.
- To avoid being a victim of “Identity Theft”, be aware of exposing credit cards, debit cards, and other identification at the cash register and ATM’s. Thieves will utilize cell phones to capture card information without your knowledge.
- Be cognizant of any other type of “Distraction” type of crimes that typically occur during this time of the year.
When Returning To Your Car
- Never leave the store with your arms full of packages. Use a courtesy cart.
- Have your car key in hand, ready to unlock your door.
- Check the parking lot for suspicious people and look around before you exit the store.
- Do not return to your vehicle if you see people loitering nearby.
- Carry a whistle or other audible device. If you feel threatened, use it. If you’re inside your vehicle, lock your doors and honk your horn to attract attention.
- Check underneath, in front and in back of your car as you approach it.
- Check the front and rear passenger seats inside your car before you enter it.
- If you are planning on returning to the store, never leave your packages in plain view inside your vehicle. Lock them in the trunk or place them on the floor and cover them with a blanket or jacket.
- ALWAYS BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS