Here are 10 great safety tips for the holiday season:
1.Â Leaving Town: Many people now a days post their out of town plans on social media. Nothing wrong with being active on social media however to prevent break ins / burglaries you should consider the following:
- Leave a front and rear light in your house on the entire time. This is a small fee for security.
- Leave a car in the driveway or ask a neighbor to park one in your driveway.
- Invest in small signs that say â€œbeware of dog â€œand â€œpremises under video surveillanceâ€ place by the front and rear of the property.
- Keep in mind the “perception” that the house is occupied is real for the criminal.
2. In store & On line shopping: Hackers and identity thieves are working over time during the holidays at stealing what they can from you. When shopping on line be sure your computer has an activated security system. Close out all windows before you shop and log out of every website you shop at. Â Your account and personal info should not sit in an open browser for any length of time.
In stores always watch who is running your credit card. Card readers are every where from gas stations to restaurants. Criminals get desperate for money and they will step up their attempts to make a quick buck.
It happens as fast as a bar tender or store clerk walking off to “run your card” and they pull out a card reader and capture your information.
3. Parking lots: You may be tempted to keep presents in your back seat while you go store to store and shop. Avoid this at all cost and avoid leaving your personal tablet, computer or GPS out in the open. You are more likely to be robbed of the possessions your car has in it than to get your car stolen.
Covering gifts up with a blanket isn’t recommended either, thieves are seasoned at what they do and they can tell the difference. Put all valuables in the trunk. This is a safe, secure and out of site area ideal for this purpose.
You may think “what does a criminal want with my kid’s toys or a set of tools?”
It’s called Craig’s list and EBay, Selling “New” items on these web sites is easy and 100% profit for criminals. Plus it’s not a pawn shop and they are most likely never going to get caught.
4. Craig list Scams: Someone post an incredible deal and ask for a deposit to hold the item while they deliver it – SCAM. Generally these are larger items like a 4 wheeler, cars, jet ski ect. “The scam also works like this” an incredible deal shows up and you schedule a time to meet the seller.You show up alone with your car, wallet and other possessions in your vehicle. You are then robbed or even worse. In today’s world criminals can literally “schedule” their crimes. You can create a sales page on craigslist with a clean Google image of an expensive item and it can all be a fake. It’s that easy.
5.Vehicle safety: The second you park your vehicle or get into it you should immediately “lock & relocate”. The amount of people who fall victim to a criminal because they have to see what their smart phone notifications are is out of control.. Lock your doors and check your phone at a red light otherwise you are a sitting duck.
Â 6.Purses & Wallets: Carry your purse / wallet in front of you close to your body. Purse snatchings happen because it’s a complete ambush. You canâ€™t see the criminal yet then can see your purse/ wallet and they can time it to their advantage. When you carry it in front it remains out of sight to anyone you can’t actually see. This forces them to have to commit the crime in your field of view and isn’t very appealing to them.
7. Curb side Criminals: Home burglaries go up after Christmas do to the influx of new and expensive items to steal. More importantly it’s because it’s very easy to see what merchandise is in what house by just looking at the boxes on your curb (large flat screen) TV box, jewelry boxes, tools, bikes ect . It’s as simple as purchasing the large 50 gallon trash bags, folding up the boxes and placing the most visible merchandise boxes in the bags. Then place them on the curb only on the day of pick up to avoid the night time prowlers who break open bags to check out what may be in your house. This is called “window shopping” for criminals.
8. Active shooter assessments: It’s now and has been an on going issue in today’™s increasingly violent world. You are sitting in a dark room with your attention on a screen and if it’™s a major film on opening day it raises the profile for an active shooter. Remember they want the greatest impact for their last curtain call and a packed movie theater is perfect
With the major block buster movies that open during Christmas you may want to consider the following.
- Waiting a few days after the movies out to go to the theater
- Sit in the middle rows and close to the exit doors that don’t open from the outside. The shooter has to make entry from some where or they are already seated. You want to be sure you can access an isle and not be confined. To understand how the doors work in a theater – JUST ASK. “Do the doors by the front row open from the outside” is a simple and direct way to get this info.
- Look for anyone wearing an abundance of clothing. Remember you are indoors and a big jacket and a back pack should raise a red flag.
- Pick early daytime hours to see the movie. Why? The goal of the shooter is to rack up as many victims as possible in a small window of opportunity. Friday at 8 p.m. is a much better target than Tuesday at 2 p.m. for a shooter.
9. ATM Machines: Fisherman go where the fish are and criminals go to where they have the greatest chance of success. An ATM machine is a great fishing hole for the desperate criminal needing a fast buck.
- Avoid drive through ATM machines after dark.Â It’s very easy to box a person into their vehicle and demand them to withdraw money. Quite often you can’t even open your door in a drive through ATM which keeps you pinned in.
- Make an effort to go into a grocery store or bank where it is crowded to make a withdrawal. It only takes a few extra minutes.
10. Children: It’s Christmas morning and your child has a new bike or scooter he wants to play with.
Consider the following for safety:
- When you’re backing a car out it’s difficult to impossible to see a small child behind you, especially in an SUV or a full size truck.
- Their will be more “Family traffic” in your neighborhood to be concerned with.
- As a parent you may be occupied more than usual on holiday details leaving the kids a little less supervised.
NOTE: Be vigilant about your children’s safety during the holidays. From a law enforcement stand point I witnessed many tragedies during the holidays. Accidents do not care that it’s Christmas so communicate to your child all your safety expectations.