SPPD tips: Stop criminals from making merry with your possessions

December 17, 2004
Santa Paula Police Department

Although ‘tis the season to be jolly, unfortunately it’s also the time when criminals come out to try to make merry with your possessions.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesAlthough ‘tis the season to be jolly, unfortunately it’s also the time when criminals come out to try to make merry with your possessions. With holiday shopping in full swing, a Santa Paula Police official wants everyone to consider safety tips for shopping and at home.Commander Mark Hanson said that many safety tips are just common sense, but that in the excitement and stress of holiday shopping or preparations for entertaining even common sense can be forgotten.When shopping or visiting friends, “Stay in well-lighted areas,” especially when parking or considering where you might have to walk. Being aware of your surroundings is important, as is being aware of holding a purse or carrying a wallet: keep the purse in front of you and the wallet in a buttoned pocket if possible to avoid purse snatchers and pickpockets. If someone comes near you, let them know that you are aware of their presence: a potential victim being on guard often deters a would-be thief.It’s always a good idea not to carry too many credit cards or cash, but if you do, don’t display large amounts of cash or a lot of plastic when paying for purchases. Do not keep cash and credit cards all in one place.If you put purchases in the trunk of your car, it’s not a bad idea to move it to another parking space in case a would-be trunk buster is watching. Never leave presents in the front of the vehicle where they can be seen from the outside.
Do not put your purse or wallet in shopping carts where they’ll be easy to snatch while your back is turned. Promptly report suspicious behavior inside stores or out in parking lots. Be sure to lock your car – at home and while away – and never leave your keys in the ignition, even if just for a few moments.If you are going to be away from your home tell a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your place. Make sure to turn on a lamp when you think you’ll be gone until nightfall, so when you come home after an evening of shopping your home will be lit. Break-ins increase around the holidays because crooks know that presents are inside… double check window and door locks.Gift boxes for expensive presents – computers, DVD players and televisions are being purchased in droves this season – should be broken down and placed in the recycling bin as soon as the present is opened: don’t let a thief know what is inside the house.People are more generous during the holidays but don’t let a scam artist get your money. Be especially wary of strangers’ hard luck stories and confine your giving to area charities or the Salvation Army, which has a bell ringer outside Kmart.“Don’t drink and drive and have a happy and safe Christmas,” said Cmdr. Hanson.

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