Holiday Safety Tips

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imagesThe holidays, a time for cheer, hope and joy, are here, but unfortunately, it can be a time when crime becomes more prevalent.   Sheriff Christesen cautions shoppers that crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but primarily because it is an opportunity for crime.

Sheriff Christesen offers these holiday safety tips to help make your holiday season a safe and happy one.  Please take some time to read them and share them with your family and friends.

 

IF YOU ARE DRIVING

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Plan ahead with breaks and shared driving to avoid getting tired.
    • The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the most dangerous holidays for crashes due to heavily traveled roadways and aggressive drivers. The four- day weekend invites travelers to drive from great distances which can cause fatigue.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Always wear seatbelts.
  • Obey posted speed limits.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to travel.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Have a winter survival kit available in the vehicle.
  • Stay focused and alert while driving.
  • Make sure your vehicle has been inspected and is suitable for travel.

IF YOU ARE SHOPPING

 

  • Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.
  • Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Do not overburden yourself with packages. Dress comfortable and casually. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
  • Never leave your purse in a shopping cart or on a counter while you pay for your purchases. When using public restrooms, use extreme caution 0 try to avoid putting your purse on hooks or door handles.
  • Never carry large amounts of money. Whenever possible, use credit cards or checks instead of cash. Make sure that only one credit slip is printed with your charge card and be sure to tear up any carbons.
  • Park in a well-lighted space.  Be sure to lock the car, close the windows plus hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
  • When returning to your auto or home, have your keys in your hand and ready to open the door.
  • Before entering your vehicle, carefully check the front and rear seats and floors for anyone that may be hiding there.  Lock your doors immediately after entering the vehicle.
  • Try to shop with friends or relatives.  There is safety in numbers.
  • Shopping with kids?  Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.

IF YOU ARE SHOPPING WITH CHILDREN

  • When in a public facility always supervise your children, and ALWAYS accompany young children to the restroom. Make certain your children know to stay with you at all times while shipping and always CHECK FIRST with you or the person in charge before they go anywhere.  It is important to know where your children are and whom they are with at all times.
  • If older children become separated from you while holiday shopping, have them meet you in a pre-designated spot such as the sales counter of the store you were in or the mall”s information booth.  For younger children teach them to look for people who can be sources of help within the store or mall such as a uniformed security officer, salesperson with a nametag, the person in the information booth, or a uniformed law enforcement officer.  They should NEVER leave the store/mall or go to the parking lot to look for you or your car.
  • Make visits to the mall opportunities for your children to practice these “safe shopping” skills.  Teach them how to use a public telephone; locate adult sources of help within the mall or a store; and for older children, go to the restroom with a friend.  Practice having them CHECK FIRST with you before going anywhere within a mall or store.  Leave clothing with your children’s name displayed at home, at it can bring about unwelcome attention from inappropriate people who may be looking for an opportunity to start a conversation with your children.
  • Parents should not leave children alone at public facilities such as video arcades, movie theaters, or playgrounds as a convenient “babysitter” while they are holiday shopping.  Never leave children in toy or specialty stores expecting store personnel to supervise and care for your children.  They are not trained in this role, and it is not a function of their employment.
  • If you allow your older children to go to the mall or other activities without you, they need to     take a friend.     It is more fun and much safer.  Older children should check in with you on a regular basis while they are out.  Make certain a clear plan is in place to pick them up including where, what time and what to do in case o a change in plans
  • Nothing takes the place of your supervision when you are in a public place with your children.  If you are going holiday shopping and feel that you will be distracted, make other arrangements for the care of your children.  It is easy for you and your children to get distracted with all the sights, sounds and crowds of holiday shopping, so make certain they stay with you at all times.

For more information on child safety call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-the lost (1-800-843-5678) or check missingkids.com.

 

IF A STRANGER COMES TO THE DOOR – BEWARE

  • Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.  And it is not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others’ generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there is no charity involved.  Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used.  If you are not satisfied, do not give.  Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.

SECURE YOUR CAR

  • Cars can be an easy target for criminals.  Park your car as close to your destination as possible and in a well-lighted area.
  • When you do your shopping, remember to store your packages in the trunk of the car and not on the back seat.  Also, if you take packages to the car but plan to return to the store or mall, drive your car to a new location within the parking lot.
  • Criminals can be on the lookout for unsuspecting shoppers who simply drop their purchases into the trunk and then return to keep shopping.
  • When returning to your auto (or home), have your keys in your hand, ready to open the door.  The few moments you save may keep you from becoming a crime victim.
  • Before entering your vehicle, carefully check the front and rear seats and floors for anyone that may be hiding there.  Lock your doors immediately after entering the vehicle.

 

IF YOU ARE OUT FOR THE EVENING

  • Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone is home.
  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it is just for a few minutes.
  • Do not display gifts where they can be seen from the outside.

 

IF YOU ARE TRAVELING

  • Get an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch your home, shovel snow and park in the driveway from time to time.
  • Do not forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped.  If it piles up, it is a sure sign that you are gone.

TAKE A HOLIDAY INVENTORY

  • The holidays are a good time to update or create your home inventory.  Take photos or make videos of items and list descriptions along with serial numbers.  If your home is burglarized, having a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier to file.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office wishes everyone a safe and joyous holiday season!