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Don't be a victim this holiday season

POSTED December 18, 2012 5:00 p.m.
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Now that the holiday shopping season is underway, it is time to share some critical reminders that can spare people from being victimized by thieves and other criminals. Knowing that there are now more parolees and early-release prison inmates on the streets than ever, the need for extra precautions this holiday season is extremely important.

Our community, as well as others in this area, has seen a spike in property crime. This would include simple thefts of items people leave in their yards and on porches, thefts from unlocked vehicles, burglaries of locked vehicles, residential and business burglaries and auto thefts. Police are working diligently to minimize the harm these criminals are doing, but they cannot do it by themselves. Residents can take simple, immediate steps to protect their belongings.

It is never smart to leave any kind of valuables in your car - whether they are purses, laptops, wallets, tablets, loose change, CDs, briefcases, cigarettes,or gifts that might tempt criminals. Of course, cars should always be locked and keys never left in them

When you park in a shopping center, assume that there are people watching to see if you place valuables in the trunk with the intent to keep them safe. If the things you value can be carried with you, do so to keep them from being stolen. In any event, park your car in a well-lit area and check on it occasionally to see if there are any suspicious persons hanging around.

It does not matter what the season is, purses in shopping carts are always vulnerable to theft. Just do not do it!

Homes and businesses should be made to appear occupied when everyone is away. Use timers to turn on lights, the television or radio. Do not allow newspapers or mail to accumulate on your driveway or porch, and coordinate neighborhood watchfulness with the people living nearby to keep an eye out for suspicious persons and activities. I continue to advocate for alarm systems that are dependable and of good quality.

Theft protection boils down to simple awareness and taking some preventative measures. There is no need to be paranoid about going out shopping or leaving your home for periods of time, but it is important to understand that we are now in different times. Protect yourselves from opportunistic thieves that are looking for the easy targets and hapless victims. This should dramatically decrease the chances of being a victim of theft or burglary.

I wish you happy and safe holidays.

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