With the holidays rapidly approaching, our thoughts turn to buying, giving and receiving gifts, visiting friends and family, and sharing delightful culinary experiences. However, there are others whose thoughts are occupied with unattended electronic/appliance-filled houses or apartments, distracted shoppers with extra cash in a purse or wallet, or the next “con job” in the name of Christmas charity.
Statistics show that crime usually increases during and after the holiday season and the reason is very simple. More people with more cash, gifts, gift cards, etc. are “out and about” which presents more opportunities for the criminal looking for an easy “score.” Of course, the happy shopper is rushing around, stressed out, absent-mindedly looking for last-minute gifts, and trying to get everything done in preparation for the holidays and holiday festivities. The happy shopper is not thinking about the person in the store or parking lot that has followed you and knows exactly where you keep your cash, what gift you may have just purchased, or where you parked your car. Even though the routine and structure of work, school, appointments, and meetings have altered somewhat, now is especially the time to be mindful of personal safety, online safety, and to practice crime prevention measures.
Here are just a few general tips to keep yourself and your property safe during and after the holiday season. Also be sure to download these brochures that provide additional safety tips for shopping online, protecting your portable electronics, and using an ATM.
If you are traveling:
- Put an automatic timer on your lights
- Ask a neighbor to check up on your home
- Don’t forget to have your mail and newspaper delivery stopped
- Sign up for email and text alert systems at your campus/local police departments to stay in touch if you may be away during the holidays
If you are out of the house:
- Turn on lights and music or the TV so it looks as if someone is home
- Be sure that your doors and windows are locked
- Don’t display your gifts where they can be seen from the outside
- If you plan to have packages delivered to your home, make sure you are home to accept them. If not, as a neighbor or ask that the package be sent to the nearest post office
If you are shopping online:
- Shop with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you’re not familiar with it.
- Be sure you or someone from your family or a trusted neighbor is home when a purchase is being delivered
If you are shopping at a mall or a store:
- Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you
- Park in a well-lighted space
- Be sure to lock your car, close windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible
- Call to cancel missing and stolen credit and debit cards immediately
- Make sure to complete warranty and/or product registration forms and mail them out as soon as possible since they may provide some kind of protection or replacement value if your property is stolen.
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages
- Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Carry a purse close to your body in the front. If you are carrying a wallet, place it in an inside coat or front pants pocket
- If shopping with kids, have a plan in case you get separated. For the older children, have a central meeting spot designated. For the younger children teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated. Be sure they know your name (not just mommy and daddy), cell phone number, and their address. Go over the dangers of strangers with them so they know who not to talk to or follow
- Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has your full number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out
- Double check that you have your credit cards and check book after you pay for your items
- Click here to read more about Shopping Safely .
If a crime is committed, make sure to report it immediately. It is crucial to remember that even though the holidays are filled lots of love and goodwill towards men, there are those who will look for opportunities to strike easy targets. The point of crime prevention is to make that as difficult for criminals as possible. Do not give a thief any chances this year. Practice safe crime prevention measures not only during and after the holidays, make them a habit for life. Happy Holidays!