Tips for a Happy and Safe Holiday
During the year-end holidays, people are often busy, excited and sometimes a little bit careless. The following holiday crime prevention tips can be shared with members of the community as a community relations or community policing effort.
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your house or apartment, even for a few minutes.
- Do not display holiday gifts where they are visible from a window or doorway. Store gifts before you go away on a holiday trip.
- If you go out for the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television so the house or apartment appears occupied.
- If you take a holiday trip away from your home, have some interior lights activated by an automatic timer. Have a neighbor or family member watch your house, shovel new snow, pick up the mail and newspaper and park his or her motor vehicle in your driveway from time to time.
- Participate in Operation Identification and mark your valuables with a unique identification number.
- Be wary of strangers soliciting for charitable donations. They may attempt to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays. Ask for identification, how donated funds are used, if contributions are tax deductible, etc. If you are not satisfied with the answers, do not give.
- Immediately after the holidays, mark new gifts with an identification number and record new serial numbers.
- Test your smoke detectors.
- Use only fire resistant ornaments on a holiday tree and make sure electric lights are in good working order. Do not leave Christmas lights “on” overnight, or when you are away from home.
- If you have houseguests, advise them of your security precautions and make sure they follow them.
- Avoid leaving boxes from purchases (especially TV’s, VCR’s, computer, etc.) out on the curb for trash pickup.
Protect your Decorations
Thieves who covet your expensive and attractive lawn decorations might decide to take them when you least expect it. Protecting your favorite decorations means planning carefully from the moment you pick them out. You can choose among several cost-effective protection methods as well more expensive options to keep your lawn decorations where they belong -- in your yard.
- Use locking cords on decorations that plug into electrical outlets. Locking cords fasten to the outlet, making it harder to pull out the cord.
- Use zip ties to secure your Christmas lights to fences, rails and branches. While they can be cut, they still make it harder for someone to steal the lights.
- Keep decorations close to your home, up on windows or the roof. The farther the displays are from the streets, the harder they are to steal.
- Turn Christmas decorations off when you go to sleep. They’ll draw less attention that way.
- Install motion sensors that trigger floodlights. As soon as thieves get near your Christmas displays, you’ve exposed them to the whole neighborhood.
- Install security cameras designed for outdoor use. If the cameras aren’t hidden, thieves will think twice about stealing your stuff knowing that they’ll be seen.
- Attach your decorations to a concrete or wood foundation can protect them from theft.
- Buy heavy, bulky lawn decorations such as life-sized statues. Larger decorations are more trouble to steal and move quickly, which reduces the chance of theft.
- Pound a rebar or metal stake into the ground directly behind your lawn decoration using a rubber mallet. Attach the decoration to the stake using sturdy rope or chain, preferably through holes or openings in the back of the decoration to hide them from view. This makes it more difficult for a thief to quickly snatch the lawn decoration.
- Dig a shallow hole with a shovel. Stir fast-set concrete with water in a wheelbarrow, per package instructions, and scoop it into the hole with a trowel. Use the trowel to level the concrete, then set the lawn decoration on top. Cover the foundation with mulch to hide it from view.
- Lay a large, heavy piece of wood on the ground. Set the lawn decoration on top of the wood, and secure it to the wood with wood bolts using a socket wrench or power driver. This method is best used with decorations that have built-in mounting holes on the base. If yours doesn't have holes, you might be able to drill holes with a masonry drill -- it depends on how your decoration is configured.
- Install motion-activated security lights on the outside of your home facing your lawn decorations. When a person walks into your yard after dark, the lights automatically turn on. Thieves prefer the cover of darkness and are less likely to steal your decorations when in the spotlight.
- Install a fence around your yard. This could be a wooden privacy fence, a picket fence or a wrought iron fence. Choose the right fence for your needs; wooden privacy fences don't showcase your lawn decorations for others, while wrought iron fences blend in better with your landscaping.
- Install small GPS tracking devices on your lawn decorations in inconspicuous places, such as inside hollow decorations or along the base. These can be pricey to purchase and to pay for the monthly tracking service, but they allow you to locate your decorations if they're stolen.
- Post a warning sign “This property is under surveillance.”
- Shop before dark if possible. Possibly coordinate shopping trips with a friend. Never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient it is.
- Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Keep you vehicle’s doors locked and windows closed.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card when possible.
- To discourage purse-snatchers, do not overburden yourself with packages. Have your purchases delivered whenever practical.
- Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back trouser pocket.
- Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard, and ask for help if separated. They should never go into a parking lot alone.
Holiday Party Safety
- Have non-alcoholic beverages available for party guests.
- Serve something to eat before serving alcoholic beverages. High protein foods stay in the stomach longer and slow absorption of alcohol into the system.
- Have alternative transportation for intoxicated persons. Do not let guests drink and drive.
- Pickpockets like to take advantage of crowds in stores, on the street and on public transportation. Many work in teams with one distracting the victim while the other does the actual pick pocketing.
- Beware of anyone who jostles you. It may be accidental but, then again, it may not. For women who carry a purse, one that has a flap, which folds over the opening and fastens at the bottom is preferable to one that opened simply by turning a clasp at the top.
- Men who carry wallets or a money clip should keep them in inner or side pockets rather than rear trouser pockets.