Every year, the holidays bring families joy, love and new beginnings. But the holidays also bring criminals and con-artists who take advantage of this special season. As you are getting in the holiday spirit by shopping for loved ones, decorating your home or traveling, please take precaution and follow these helpful holiday safety tips.
Holiday Safety Tips
Distracted Drivers and Pedestrians
During the holidays, the streets are bustling with eager shoppers and commuters, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect traffic rules and safety. Always watch out for small children and distracted drivers in parking lots and crowded areas that are busier than usual.
- Remind inexperienced teen drivers to be extra alert during the holidays when people are more distracted.
- Avoid distractions while driving. No text message or alert is worth the risk of taking your eyes off the road. Set your GPS to voice activated so you can concentrate on driving without having to glance at your phone.
One of the most common ways thieves steal during the holidays is breaking and entering cars. Minimize this risk by always locking car doors and keeping windows closed while in or out of your car. Be sure to set your alarm or use an anti-theft device. When exiting your car, do not leave packages or valuable items on a seat or in plain view. If you must leave something of value in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight. When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be extra cautious of your surroundings. Take a moment to glance around for possible suspicious persons, vehicles, or situations. Prior to entering your car, look for potential threats inside and around.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag, and shopping bags. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- Do not talk on a cell phone and have your keys in your hand ready to use when approaching your car.
- Do not open your car door to anyone in a parking lot or garage. If you believe you are in danger, call 911 immediately.
- If you feel uneasy returning to your car alone, ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
Shopping is one of the most common activities in our daily lives. Add in the holidays, shopping turns into one of the most prime opportunities for thieves. When carrying a wallet or purse, be extra careful as they become targets for criminals in crowded shopping areas. Beware of strangers accosting you for any reason. “Con-artists” might try to distract you with the intention of stealing your money or belongings.
- Shop during daylight hours when possible. If you must shop at night, go with friends or family and park in a well-lit area.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
- Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping. Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case they are ever separated from you. Give children a contact phone number they can carry and use in case you do become separated.
Home is where we should feel most safe, however, during the holidays we can often leave ourselves vulnerable to burglars and thieves. Around this time, be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when leaving the house. Even if only gone for a few minutes, this still leaves enough time for burglars to enter. Be careful not to leave gifts or valuable objects near open windows. Close blinds, shutters, drapes and curtains as burglars who can easily see valuable items are most tempted to take them from you.
- Set your indoor and outdoor lights on an automatic timer and leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.
- Before stringing lights on your house or trees, inspect the strands to ensure there are not any frayed cords or cracked bulbs. Don’t use indoor lights outside and vice versa. Check the tag on the string of lights to be sure.
- If you are traveling, do not post your travel plans on social media. Let a trustworthy neighbor know if you are planning to go out of town, so they can keep an eye on your house. Have the neighbor also grab your mail and newspapers while you are away.
Strangers at Your Door
It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of people by simply knocking on their front door. Whether they pose as couriers delivering gifts or as solicitors asking for charitable donations, always be cautious when opening the door to strangers. Know that you should never feel obligated to open your door to anyone.
- Be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.
- It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes although no charity is involved. Ask for their identification and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.
- If a person knocks on your door and you don’t recognize them, don’t feel obligated to open your door. Teach children not to open the door to anyone prior to your knowledge and authorization.
Holiday Package Theft
Package theft has been in the news frequently as more individuals are shopping online and receiving purchases right to their front door. However, packages become vulnerable when left outside for long periods of time. If you know a family member or neighbor will be home, ask them to pick up your package upon delivery.
- Track deliveries online and confirm delivery has occurred. Sign up for email notifications to track your packages from initial shipment to its arrival at your home, or the recipient’s address if you have the gift delivered directly.
- Switch the delivery location to your work address where it can be received by someone and not left on the porch.
The holidays are a reminder to spend time with family and friends while reflecting on the past year and looking forward to another new year. The holidays are also a reminder to remain cautious and alert in order to ensure your and your family’s safety. From all of us at the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department, we wish you a safe and happy holidays and New Year.