by Lt. John Plitsch
The holiday shopping season is a peak time for burglaries, thefts and muggings. Here are some tips to help prevent you from being the victim of a crime during the holidays:
- Be extra cautious about locking your doors and windows at all times.
- Don't display gifts and other valuables where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
- If you go out in the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television so the house looks occupied.
- If you go on vacation, get an automatic timer for your lights. Ask a neighbor or trusted friend to watch your house, pick up your mail and newspapers, and park their car in your driveway from time to time.
- Beware of package deliveries where couriers have the "wrong" address. Write down the tag numbers of suspicious delivery attempts.
- After Christmas, don't advertise your new electronics or other valuables by putting the empty boxes out on the curb for the garbage collectors. Break the boxes down and fold them to where the words are on the inside.
- Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you. Avoid the area if you see people "hanging around" parking garages, parking lots, or outside of stores. Notify the police or security department.
- If possible, shop before dark. Coordinate your shopping trips with a friend if you plan to be out late. Never park your car in a dark area, no matter how convenient it is.
- Lock your car doors and windows even if you are only gone for a few minutes.
- Keep packages and other valuables out of public view, preferably locked in the trunk.
- Have your keys in hand when you return to your car. Always check the interior of your car before you unlock the door to get in.
- To discourage purse snatchers, don't overburden yourself with packages.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, ATM card or credit card whenever possible.
- Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry purses under your arm with the strap across your body. Keep wallets in an inside jacket pocket, not a back pant pocket.
- Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if they become separated in a store or shopping mall. They should never go into a parking lot alone.
- Always keep your valuables out of public view, and keep your vehicles secured.
- In your work area, keep valuables secured. Lock your office whenever you are not present, even if you only plan to be away for a minute or two.
Remember most thefts are "crimes of opportunity," when individuals see easy targets and are convinced that they can get away with your valuables.
For information, visit http://www.musc.edu/publicsafety/ or call the Department of Public Safety at 792-2261.
Friday, Dec. 7, 2012