Tips on holiday safety
The holidays are a time when thieves and con artists are frequently on the prowl. Here are some tips from the Red Oak Police Department to help keep your home, your car, your possessions, and your family safe.
Keeping Your Home Safe
* We all want our homes to reflect the joy of the season, but avoid displaying gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
* Arrange to have packages delivered to a neighbor if you’re not home to receive them.
* Packages left on porches or doorsteps are “easy picking” for thieves. It also draws unwanted attention to your home.
* Consider simple outside decorations. Elaborate or large lawn pieces are often stolen right out of the lawn.
* Be sure not to obscure the view from your windows. You need a clear view of your property.
* Always lock your home’s doors and windows, even if you’re only gone for a few minutes.
* Compact or dispose of packaging discreetly. Often criminals will spot something you’ve discarded and can target you for their next burglary or theft.
* When leaving town, have a trusted friend or neighbor take care of your home. Never cancel general deliveries such as mail, newspapers, and other services when leaving town or going on vacation.
* Notify your local police precinct when you’re planning an extended absence. They can issue a vacation watch or directed patrol for your home. Keeping Your Neighborhood Safe
* First, share these tips with your neighbors. Establish a network with your neighbors and make a plan for mutual protection and notification.
* Get your Neighborhood Watch group together and go caroling. Visit the elderly and others in your area that may be isolated during the holidays.
Staying Safe While Shopping
* Always lock your car and close the windows, even if you’re only gone a few moments. When possible, lock all merchandise or packages in the trunk of your car. Load your packages before departing, not at the next destination.
* Shop with at least one partner. Have your car or house key in your hand as you approach the door. If attacked use those keys as weapons!
* Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you. Look inside your car and around it as you approach.
* Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep wallets in an inside pocket.
* Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
* Avoid street vendors -- many times these hucksters are selling stolen or unlicensed merchandise.
* Plan your trips. Instead of one big shopping trip, try several small ones. This will cut down on the amount of money you carry, the packages you’ll be encumbered with, and it will make your shopping less stressful.
* Walk everywhere with a sense of purpose - show you are calm, confident and know where you are going.
* Park in well-lighted areas that will be well-lighted when you return.
Keeping Your Credit and Identity Safe
* If you write checks, use only the necessary information, name, address, phone number. Never give your social security number.
* Safeguard your credit cards and checks as you do cash. Do not leave them in jacket pockets or sitting out in restaurants, stores or hotel rooms.
* Keep your purse or wallet on you. Shoulder straps should cross your body, not dangling from your shoulder. Do not lay them in a shopping basket. Be sure they are closed securely.
* Make a list of all your credit cards, debit cards and checks with account numbers. Keep the list in a secure place at home.
* Notify issuers immediately if your card is lost, stolen or misused.
* Take your time when making a purchase. Be sure you collect your license, credit card, or check book and your receipt.
* Keep your receipts and reconcile your statement. Promptly report any discrepancies to the issuer.
* Consider direct deposit of your payroll or benefit checks; it’s safe and convenient and prevents the theft of your checks.
* Recognize that the holidays can cause stress – keep emotions under control while driving. Give other drivers plenty of space and always leave yourself a route to avoid an accident.
* If you attend parties where alcohol is served, remember to use a designated driver.
* Prepare for winter driving conditions and equip your vehicle with cold weather emergency supplies.
* Minimize distractions such as talking on a cell phone.
* Take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue, especially when driving long distances. If you get tired, stop and rest until you’re able to drive with full attention.
* Buckle up! That means passengers and kids, too!!
* Be patient! Give yourself extra time for travel, especially in snow or rain. Even in dry conditions, traffic during the holidays is heavier than normal, and it will take longer than you expect to get around.
After the holidays:
Pay close attention to bills and report any unauthorized charges. Photograph and record the serial numbers of new items and add them to your inventory.
IF YOU ARE VICTIMIZED, REPORT IT TO POLICE IMMEDIATELY.