The holiday season is upon us, and even though it is a joyful season, it can also be a time for crime. The CNN website reported that burglaries peak during the Christmas holiday and the week after Christmas.
Collin County Precinct 1 Constable Shane Williams said there are a few ways to keep yourself and your home safe during the holidays.
“For one, don’t put your tree with all your presents in the front window,” Williams said. “This makes it easy for a burglar to pick the big expensive-looking gifts.”
Williams also offered tips for citizens buying gifts from online sales sites.
“My office has a nice big parking lot,” he said. “If you need to meet somebody to buy something, meet the there. It is a safe place.”
“Avoid opening the door to strangers,” Anna Police Chief Kenneth Jenks said. “Legitimate delivery people will be able to show identification.”
Jenks also had tips for people mailing out gifts.
“Be sure to mail cards with money, checks or gift certificates from the Post Office or a blue US Postal Service collection box,” Jenks said. “They could (be) stolen from your mail box.”
For residents traveling and leaving their houses unattended for any amount of time, Jenks had some advice.
“If traveling, use timers for lights and radios while you’re away,” Jenks said. “Ask a trusted friend, neighbor or Neighborhood Watch member to watch your home. Remember to make arrangements for mail and newspapers. Fill out an Anna Police Department house watch form and drop it off to us, and we’ll try to check on it as well while you are gone.”
Anna Police Officer Rush Smith added his recommendation for residents out in the melee of Christmas shopping.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” Smith said. “Today we tend to focus on our cell phones and are unaware of who or what is around us or watching us. This is especially crucial if you have kids.”
“Lock your car at all times,” Smith said. “Even if you are in your car (most are automatic locking doors), secure it where no one can open the door unexpectedly. If you get out of your car, as to pump gas, lock your car so no one can open other doors while you are distracted.”
Smith also asks people to drive safe and consider other motorists.
“Please drive safe, no road rage,” he said.
Jenks also shared some advice for shoppers.
“Park in a well-lit area,” Jenks said. “Use anti-theft steering wheel clubs or locks, as well. A thief is looking for easy targets and anything you can do to deter them from choosing your car, the better. Minimize the number of valuables left in your vehicle and keep valuables (and) electronics, including cell phones and DVDs, laptops, GPS, gifts and other ‘theft attractors’ out of sight. Take them out of your car when you get home.”
“Protect your purse or wallet and clean out any unnecessary items before leaving home. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or extra credit cards; minimize your victimization by only carrying the cash or credit cards that you will need to use that day. Make and keep a master list of all cards so if your wallet is stolen, they can be reported promptly to the appropriate banking facility,” Jenks said.
Jenks said it is also important that your children know what to do in case of an emergency.
“Roleplay with your children about what should happen in the event you are separated,” he said.
“Have your keys out and ready when you return to your vehicle,” Jenks said. “Do not leave your car unattended with the motor running or with the keys in the ignition, even for the very short time needed to do a quick errand or pay for fuel.”