Keep it Ho-Ho-Ho by saying No-No-No to becoming a holiday crime victim
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: December 19, 2012
It’s time for Ho-Ho-Ho, but also time for No-No-No when it comes to leaving yourself open to becoming a victim of holiday crime.
Those busy with a crowded holiday schedule are often preoccupied and may become targets of criminals, but being aware and being careful will go far in keeping you and your possessions safe.
Even if you’re only going to be gone for only a few minutes, be extra cautious about always locking doors and windows. If you’re doing some holiday traveling and will away for an extended period of time have a relative or neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers and check your home. Time automatic indoor and outdoor lights and a radio or TV left on are also good deterrents.
Everyone loves a Christmas tree surrounded by plenty of presents. Go ahead and enjoy, but keep large displays of holiday gifts out of view from those who might see in your windows and doors.
Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts, so be aware and do not let anyone into your home. Also, delivered packages are becoming prime targets of thieves, so you might request that any home delivery require a signature.
Criminals also will take advantage of generous folks inspired by the season of giving, going door-to-door collecting for charity that does not exist. Always ask for identification, a permit, and how the donation will be used; do not donate if you are suspicious. Better yet, donate to a recognized charity you make contact with.
Avoid driving alone or at night, but whenever you drive keep all doors locked and windows closed. Set your car alarm or use an anti-theft device. If you must shop at night, park in a well-lit area as close as you can to your destination. Take notice of where you parked - use your phone to take a photo of any parking markers.
Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside. Do not leave packages, electronics or anything valuable on the seat of your car; this creates temptation for thieves and is considered by law enforcement to cause crimes of opportunity. Even if you lock your car - and you always should - lock everything away in the trunk.
Before you go to your car be sure to locate your keys; and remember, most vehicle remotes have a button to honk the horn in case of emergency. Hold on to your handbag and packages securely, no matter where you are, and don’t put them on top of your car.
Do not approach any area where there are suspicious people, and be sure to ask mall or store security for an escort to your vehicle if you are uneasy.
Shop during daylight hours when possible, but if you must go at night don’t shop alone. Dress comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Avoid, if you can, carrying a purse or wallet; instead carry what cash you’ll need, ID and one credit card or a check or two in a safe front pocket. Don’t carry too many packages, and be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
If possible leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter, but if you take them shopping teach them to stay close to them at all times. Children should also be taught to go to a store clerk and ask for help if you are separated, and never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.
Teach children their full name, telephone number with area code, and address to give to police or mall security. Make sure your child knows how to recognize a policeman, and point out security guards at malls.
Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them or for any reason makes them feel uncomfortable. Don’t forget: if your child doesn’t want to sit on Santa’s lap don’t force them, but reassure them they’ll still get a present from the jolly one.