Tips for Safe and Happy Holidays
Homes jam-packed with glittering gifts. Stores, malls and downtown streets teeming with unsuspecting shoppers. People rushing around, stressed out and careless, looking for last-minute gifts, trying to get everything done. It's enough to make a crook giddy with holiday joy. Here are some tips to help celebrate safely this holiday season:
IF YOU'RE TRAVELING
- Get an automatic timer for your lights.
- Ask a neighbor to watch your home and park in the driveway from time to time.
- Don't forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped. If it piles up, its a sure sign you're gone.
IF YOU'RE OUT FOR THE EVENING
- Turn on lights and the radio or TV so it looks like somebody's home.
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it's just for a few minutes.
- Don't display gifts where they can be seen from outside.
IF YOU'RE SHOPPING
- Stay alert and be aware of what's going on around you.
- Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
- Avoid carrying large amounts or cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
- Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Don't overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
- Only carry a minimal amount of credit cards when out shopping.
- Do not carry your Social Security Card or PIN numbers in your wallet or purse, leave these items in a secure place at home.
- Taking the extra time to close your purse and keep it with you while shopping or in public places will reduce the opportunity for thieves to take wallets and other valuables.
- Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
- When possible walk to your car with someone or ask a store employee to walk with you to your car especially after dark.
IF A STRANGER COMES TO THE DOOR, BEWARE.
Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. And it's not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there's no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will he used. If you aren't satisfied, don't give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.
Last but not least, don't let holiday stress get the best of your holiday spirit. Make time to get together with family, friends, and neighbors. And think about reaching out in the spirit of the season and helping someone who's less fortunate or lonely.
Do your part to make the holidays a safe and happy time for everybody — except criminals.
TAKE A HOLIDAY INVENTORY
The holidays are a good time to update — or create — your home inventory. Take photos or make videos of items, and list descriptions and serial numbers. If your home is burglarized, having a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier to file. Make sure things like TVs, DVD players, stereo equipment, cameras, camcorders. sports equipment, jewelry, silver, computers, home office equipment, and power tools are on the list. Remember to check it twice!
AFTER YOU'VE OPENED THE GIFTS
Burglars know that many households have new, and oftentimes expensive items in their homes following the December holidays — especially items such as new computers and peripherals, stereo components, televisions, cameras and other electronic equipment.
In too many cases, residents make it easy for burglars to figure out which homes to target by putting boxes that identify their new gifts in plain view with their other garbage. Avoid becoming an easy target for post-holiday burglars by not leaving boxes for new electronics and other items in the alley or other recycling pick-up locations for several days at a time.
Instead, break down any boxes you are throwing out, put them in garbage bags and place them inside a trash can. (In many cases, especially with computer equipment, you might consider keeping the boxes for safe storage, shipping or moving in the future.) Think about keeping broken-down boxes inside – in a garage, for example — until the evening before your regular recycling pick-up.
Some burglars actually look inside garbage/recycling cans for evidence of holiday gifts. And, of course, if you see someone suspicious casing your street or alley, call 9-1-1. If you see a burglary in progress, call 9-1-1.
The holiday season is a time of celebration and revelry. Drinking and driving is a danger to everyone on the road. Remember that the risk isn't worth it — if you choose to drink alcohol at a party, don't drive. Take a cab, use public transportation or a designated driver. Have fun, but remember to celebrate responsibly.
Individuals who are victims of purse / wallet theft or credit card theft should make a police report and contact their credit card companies to cancel the card and contact the three major credit reporting bureaus to place a fraud alert on the cards. For more information on Identity Theft and Credit Card Theft, click here.
Some information in this page comes from the: National Crime Prevention Council 1000 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. 13th Floor Washington, D.C. 20036 Tel: 202-466-6272 Fax: 202-296-1356 www.ncpc.org