Monday, December 17, 2007

Tips for a Happy and Safe Holiday

During the year-end Holidays, people are busy, excited and sometimes careless. By making this holiday season safer, it will also be more enjoyable.

Be cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your house, apartment or condo, even if you are leaving for a few minutes. It only takes a few minutes to become the victim of a burglary or theft.

We all like to leave our curtains open to display our beautiful tree sparkling in our front window. That’s fine, but please don’t put your gift-wrapped packages under the tree until Christmas Eve. A thief walking your neighborhood can look in and make a mental note of all of the gifts, and come back when your house is not occupied, which brings up another point. Always make your house look occupied when leaving. Put lights on times and leave a radio or television on.

On Christmas day, don’t leave the boxes from your new gifts on the curb for trash pickup. Cut them up and place them inside or your garbage pail or recycle bin. Don’t advertise your new TV’s, VCR’s, or computers in the house.

If possible, shop before dark and try to coordinate shopping trips with a friend. Never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient it is. Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Never leave them on the back seat where they can be viewed by passerby. Try to avoid leaving the store with an Arm-Load of gifts, placing them in the trunk and then going back into the store. Someone in the parking lot could be watching! They now know that there are gifts in the trunk and could attempt to break in while you are back inside the store. If you must go back in, place the packages inside the trunk, get into your car and drive off, and then park again on the other side of the mall.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card when possible. Don’t carry more checks or credit cards then are actually needed.

“To discourage purse-snatchers, do not over-burden yourself with packages”. Use handbags that have a zipper and locking flap, and carry them securely with the flap close to your body. Carry wallets inside your coat or side trouser pocket; never carry them in your back pants pocket unless you have a button or some way to secure that pocket. Place a rubber band around your wallet or money clip so that you can feel it if a pickpocket attempts to remove it.

While checking out at store registers, shield your credit card from people around you. Someone might attempt to get your credit card number. Save your credit card receipts to compare with your billing statements. Carry your credit cards in a separate zippered compartment in your purse, not just as holiday time, but all the time.

Be cautious when using an ATM. At a drive-up ATM, keep all the windows closed, except the one you are using, and all the vehicles doors locked. If you drive to the ATM and then exit your vehicle to use the ATM lock all of your doors and keep your keys handy so that you can re-enter your vehicle quickly. Al alert for anything suspicious, especially two or more people in a nearby vehicle, particularly if no one else is at the ATM, or someone appears to be hanging around the area. Never approach an ATM if the lights at the site are not working. If you are using an ATM after dark, take a friend along. Have the friend sit in the car with the vehicle running and park it as close to the ATM as possible in a well lighted area. Try not to use an ATM if there are large bushes or obstructions that someone could possibly hide behind.

When having friends and family over for the holidays, make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages on hand for the designated drivers. We all want to be the perfect hosts. When we see a guest with a half-empty glass, we immediately want to replenish the drink. Don’t push drinks. People don’t need to drink in order to have a good time. Some guests may not wish to appear rude, and will accept drinks they don’t want. Don’t let guests mix their own drinks. Have one person serving the drinks and have that person try to keep track of the size and number of drinks that guests consume. Stop serving alcohol 90 minutes before the party ends. Serve a great dessert with coffee. Remember, coffee won’t sober up your friends, but time will. As your party breaks up and guests are leaving, encourage them to wear their seat belts and be alert for impaired drivers.

Let’s work together for a safe and happy holiday season.

Joel Morganstern

Lake Worth Police Department

Crime Prevention Specialist (COP Coordinator)

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