While in the season known as the season to be jolly, it’s also the season to be wary of thieves, burglars, pickpockets and other holiday grinches. Nothing can ruin the holiday spirit faster than becoming victim of a crime. Here are a few strategies from the Atlanta Police Department and Midtown Blue that will help you enjoy the holidays without incident.
Protecting Your Home
Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your house or apartment, even for a few minutes.
Don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window so it’s easily visible from the street. It’s too tempting for a potential criminal to smash the window and grab the wrapped packages. Plus, you don’t want them to be able to plan a later break-in based on their earlier observation.
Don’t advertise not being home. Burglars look for occupancy cues like outdoor lights burning 24 hours a day, piled up newspapers, mail, or advertising flyers hanging on the door knob.
Use an inexpensive light timer when you are away and ask a neighbor to pick up your newspapers and mail.
If you go out for the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television so the house or apartment appears to be occupied.
Burglars know to look for the hidden door key near the front entrance. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to a trusted neighbor.
Burglars prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows. A holiday problem can occur when exterior Christmas light extension cords are run inside through a window and prevent it from being secured.
Don’t post your family name on your mailbox or on your house. A burglar can call directory assistance to get your telephone number and call your home while in front of your house to confirm that you are away.
Don’t leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages such as, “You’ve reached the Wilson’s … we’re away skiing for the Christmas holidays … please leave a message.” Bad guys love to hear that they have plenty of time to break in and completely ransack your home.
After Christmas day, don’t pile up empty gift boxes from your new computer, DVD player, or stereo receiver on the street for the garbage man. Burglars appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside for them to steal. Break the boxes down or cut them up to conceal the items better.
Shopping Prevention Tips
Stay alert to your surroundings.
Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back trouser pocket.
Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Keep you vehicle’s doors locked and windows closed. This is especially relevant for SUVs.
Have your keys readily available in your hand before you go to your car.
When you return to your vehicle, scan the interior of your car to be sure no one is hiding inside. Check to see if you are being followed.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card when possible.
To discourage purse-snatchers, don’t overburden yourself with packages. Have your purchases delivered whenever practical.
And… never drink and drive! Have a safe and happy holiday.