“It’s important that people are aware of their surroundings and potential areas of danger, thereby closing the criminal’s window of opportunity. As much as we’d like to believe that the holidays bring out the best in people, we must face the reality that some people don’t become more generous, giving and charitable. During holidays, criminals become more creative and less compassionate. When you store your gifts, view those gifts as cash because that’s how criminals see them.
“Crime is a reality of life, and some crime is more preventable than others. And when it comes to theft around the holidays, it’s entirely preventable. There are few things that bother me more than to see a hardworking family celebrate the holidays with no presents because they were just too complacent and they didn’t protect themselves.”
The following are some crime prevention tips to keep you safe this holiday season:
• Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
• Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with a place or person, get away.
• Park in a well-lit area.
• Lock your vehicle!
• Minimize the number of valuables left in your vehicle.
• Keep valuables, electronics and gifts and other “theft attractors” out of sight.
• Protect your purse or wallet and clean out any unnecessary items.
• Don’t carry large amounts of cash or extra credit cards.
• Never leave your purse, wallet or cell phone unattended in a public place.
• Shop with a buddy – there is safety in numbers.
• Role-play with children about what should happen in the event you are separated.
• Have your keys out and ready when you return to your vehicle.
• Don’t leave your car unattended and its motor running.
• Make sure all doors and windows have secondary locks – and use them!
• Keep a master list of all credit cards somewhere secure at home.
• Ensure that dark outdoor areas and entrances are lit.
• Place gifts where they can’t be seen from the outside.
• Avoid opening the door to strangers.
• Investigate charities before donating.
• Make online purchases only from trusted, secure Web sites. Look for “https” in the web address to verify security.
• When traveling, use timers for lights and radios while you’re away. Ask a trusted friend, neighbor or Block Watch member to watch your home. Make arrangements for mail and newspaper pickup.
• Recognize that holidays can cause stress – keep emotions under control while driving.
• Give other drivers plenty of space and leave yourself a route to avoid an accident.
• If you attend a party where alcohol is served, remember to use a designated driver.
• Minimize distractions such as talking on a cell phone.
• Take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue, especially when driving long distances.
• Buckle up – that means passengers and kids, too!
• Be patient! Give yourself extra time for travel, especially in rain.
• Even in dry conditions, traffic during the holidays is heavier than normal and it will take longer than you expect to get around.
After the holidays:
• Pay close attention to bills and report unauthorized charges.
• Photograph and record the serial numbers of new items and add them to your inventory.
If you’d like to report suspicious activity or ask questions, call the Oakley Police Department at 925-625-6700.