Written by Deanna Laperle, Facility Security Officer
With the major holiday season coming fast upon us, I would like to take the time to remind you of security awareness and crime prevention tips you can follow to ensure your holidays are safe, fun and enjoyable.
- Theft/Burglary – Increased cash volume and the distractions of crowds prove ideal for robbers. Be vigilant when you are out shopping, in the stores and parking areas, and take preventative actions when receiving packages at home or if you are going away for the holidays.
- Identity Theft – Crowded shopping malls and stores and distracted or flustered shoppers are ideal environments and targets for pickpocketing. Make sure you are aware of your personal belongings at all times; ladies should consider using a smaller handbag with a zipper that they carry in their front and men should consider carrying their wallets or money clips in a front pants pocket or inside jacket pocket to deter theft.
- Track your purchases and credit for any suspicious activity and utilize free credit reports – Federally, you are allowed one free credit report every 12 months (annualcreditreport.com). You should utilize this service even if you track your credit through another provider.
- Utilize the text and/or e-mail alert system for suspicious activity offered by your banking institution or credit card company.
- Vehicle Theft – You might drop off packages in your vehicle to lighten the load as you continue shopping, or leave packages in your car when store-hopping as you shop for gifts; these are what criminals anticipate, particularly during the holiday season when people are purchasing more expensive items and shopping for longer periods of time, leaving their vehicles unattended for up to hours at a time.
- If you leave purchases in your vehicle, do so where no one can see them – in the trunk of a car or in a solid closed compartment or box in an SUV or truck.
- Be vigilant as you walk to your vehicle – criminals can blend in easier in crowded parking lots or parking garages.
- Home Burglary – Christmas trees and gifts are often placed near windows, making it easy for criminals to spot a good target. If you’re ordering gifts online, having packages delivered and sitting on your porch while you’re at work draws attention to your house. Home burglaries are often crimes of opportunity and occur when a house appears unoccupied; you can make your house look occupied by doing some of the following:
- Leave music or a TV on while you’re at work
- Leave a few lights on in the house; if you have lights with a timer, make sure they’re set to go on and off in various rooms of the house throughout the day.
- Keep your mail/newspapers picked up; if you’re going out of town for the holidays, have a neighbor or friend bring your mail inside or hold your mail at the post office.
- Make sure packages are only delivered at times when someone is home to receive them or have them redirected to the carrier’s nearest sorting facility (USPS Package Intercept, FedEx Delivery Manager and UPS My Choice).
Look out for more seasonal crime prevention tips in Part II!