This holiday season,
don't let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers,
and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love
the holidays as much as everyone else, but chiefly because it's an
opportune time for crime.
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 on how to celebrate safely this holiday season:
If You're Traveling:
Get an automatic
timer for your home interior lights.
Ask a neighbor to
watch your home, and park in the driveway from time to time.
Have your neighbors
pick-up your mail and newspapers. If it piles up, it's a
sure sign you're gone.
If You're Out for the Evening:
Turn on lights and a
radio or TV so it looks like someone's home.
Be extra cautious about
locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it's just for a few
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 or out of sight.
Avoid carrying large
amounts of 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 (fanny packs are great).
Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
Shopping with kids?
Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get
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
be 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. 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.
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 TV's, VCR's stereo equipment, cameras,
camcorders, sports equipment, jewelry, silver, computers, home office
equipment and power tools are on the list. Remember to check it