Safety tips during this holiday season

  12/14/2020

Holiday Shopping Safety

Always avoid dark areas in parking lots and ATMs. Your most important defense – BE ALERT!!! Giving the appearance of not paying attention is what criminals look for in potential victims.

  • Eliminate the opportunity for surprise. Always ask yourself, “why is this person where they are?”
  • When walking through public parking areas and garages walk with a purpose and stay alert to your surroundings
  • Shop with a friend whenever possible. A person traveling alone is more vulnerable
  • Never sit in your vehicle reading or eating. Go inside, lock your vehicle, take your keys and keep valuables in your trunk or out of view.
  • Don’t be profiled by criminals. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and flashing large amounts of cash. Using debit cards or credit cards are safer than carrying cash. Checks can provide some form of personal information and account numbers.
  • Do not leave your purse or wallet unattended. Be certain your purse is always closed and secured.
  • If a stranger is loitering near or around your vehicle, walk back into the nearest public place and call for an escort (store manager, security, etc.).
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead to provide an emergency escape route.
  • Resistance to robbery attempts may escalate the situation and increase the risk of personal harm to you or a family member. Don’t argue. Your life is worth more than material possessions.

Vehicle Burglary Prevention

Vehicle burglaries remain one of the most frequently reported crimes of opportunity but are the most preventable. Vehicle burglars are active year round but especially during the holiday season prowling parking lots of malls, stores and restaurants. Some tips to becoming a harder target for vehicle burglars are:

  • Never leave packages, purses, cell phones, i-Pads/i-Pods or other valuables in open view within passenger compartments of vehicles
  • If you drop off packages in your vehicle (even the trunk) with the intention of going back into the stores, move your vehicle so as to give the appearance of leaving
  • Make certain the back window on SUVs is locked; this window provides easy access to your SUV
  • Take packages home before going to restaurants; vehicle burglars will know you will be away from your vehicle for a long period of time
  • When returning home from a busy shopping day, always remove packages and valuables immediately. A vehicle burglar might follow you home.
  • Unlocked vehicles can provide easy trunk access. Don’t forget to lock doors and set alarms on vehicles

Remember it only takes seconds for a vehicle burglar to access your vehicle and steal your property. They look just like anybody else and move about freely and unnoticed in crowded parking lots. For your own safety, do not intervene in a vehicle burglary in progress. Notify store security or a store employee.

Tips to Send Porch Pirates Packing
As the holidays collide with COVID-19, expect a surge in package thefts. Sticky-fingered porch pirates continue to steal items delivered to front doors before the recipients retrieve them. Some swoop in on foot or bikes; others skulk in by car. Thieves even have been known to “tailgate” behind delivery trucks.

Here are some tips you can follow to avoid becoming a victim of these porch pirates:
1. Retrieve a package as soon as it arrives. Or avoid delivery by using ship-to-store or curbside pickup.

2. Use a tracking feature to check online when a package is scheduled to arrive. UPS, for example has UPS My Choice to help track and reroute package deliveries.

3. Request that your package is sent with the “signature required” feature so it can’t be delivered without one.

4. If you’re not going to be home, set up a specific delivery time when you will be.

5. Choose an alternative pickup location.
 FedEx has more than 14,000 sites in the U.S. including FedEx Offices, FedEX Ship Centers and retailers including Walgreens, Albertsons, Kroger and Dollar General.

 UPS Access Point locations for pickups include the UPS Store, Michaels, CVS, Advance Auto Parts and self-service lockers.

 Amazon uses Amazon Lockers.

 For a fee, USPS offers a “Package Intercept” feature, although not all parcels are eligible.

6. If you are leaving town, ask for your shipments to be held. USPS’ free, “hold mail” requests must be for at least 3 days and for a maximum of 30 days.

7. FedEX accepts vacation holds for up to 14 days; it also will store your delivery for free for up to 5 days at many locations.

8. Consider a security camera. Some signal your phone, tablet or personal computer if your doorbell is rung.

9. Instruct delivery firms where to leave your package so it isn’t visible from the street.

10. Get an app. The FedEx mobile app lets package recipients electronically sign for a package, request a vacation hold or choose a hold at one of its locations. Some security cameras let you use an app to watch over your home from your smartphone. UPS lets you track your shipment.