As many of you make shopping a part of the holiday
tradition and head off to the stores, be aware of strangers who may
approach you for any reason. If approached, deputies from the
Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit recommend that you create as
much distance as possible between yourself and the stranger. One option
is to place an object, such as a shopping cart or your vehicle between
yourself and the subject. Call attention to yourself. Having people
made aware of the situation should help to discourage the actions of
any would-be suspect.
Park your vehicle as close as possible to your
destination and never leave it running while unattended or with
children inside. If shopping at night, park in a well lighted area.
Better still, shop with a friend.
Ask store security to escort you to your vehicle
if, for any reason, you feel it is unsafe to head out on your own. Keep
your car keys to hand. Crime Prevention deputies even suggest keeping
your cell phone in your hand and dialed to 911 just in case you need to
get help quickly.
Keep wallets, purses and parcels close and
secure. Load gifts into the trunk. Never leave them in plain view on
the seats of your vehicle, as this will attract the attention of
thieves and make you an easy target of vehicle burglary and theft.
Most important, always lock your vehicle doors.
The vast majority of vehicle burglaries occur when vehicle doors are
left unlocked. Thieves will often select an area, be it a parking lot
or residential neighborhood, and check car doors until they find the
Also, always secure your home. Lock windows and
doors, even if you are just stepping out for a brief period of time. If
traveling out of town for the holidays, ask a friend or neighbor to
check your home regularly during your absence and to call law
enforcement to report any unusual or suspicious activity.
While at home, be wary of strangers who may
knock on your front door. “Con artists” may try to take advantage of
the season to ask for donations for charitable causes that do not
exist. They will often try to distract a home owner with the intention
of taking money or belongings and attempt to find a way to gain entry
into someone’s home. To avoid becoming a victim, deputies suggest that
you don’t open your door to unexpected visitors or solicitors. If you
are expecting a repairman or any other service provider, ask for
identification, look for a vehicle with a logo that matches that of
your provider, or simply make a call to the company to confirm that the
person at your door is, in fact, legitimate.
Protecting your identity while shopping online
is important too. Shop only with known and reputable retailers. Read
their protection information. Don’t even open e-mails from companies
you don’t know. Just as your front door opens your home, don’t open
your computer to identity thieves by not securing your personal and