The holiday season is a time for family, presents and travel – all things that can make people prime targets for criminal activity. Around this special time of year, a little awareness can go a long way to prevent becoming a victim of holiday crime, according to Ventura County Sheriff Eric Buschow.
“The biggest thing [law enforcement] see is an uptick in property crime,” said Buschow. “Recently, Apple computer stores and products have been high commodities for criminal activity. There have been reports of stolen Apple products and property even after the victim has left the shopping center the Apple store is in and has traveled to another one.”
Buschow and the Ventura County Sheriff’s office also shared these tips:
When celebrating the holidays at home:
- When leaving home for an extended time or travel, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
- Indoor and outdoor lights, including Christmas lights, should be on an automatic timer.
- To prevent Christmas tree fires, ensure the wiring on or around the tree is not damaged or frayed; and place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it from drying.
Be aware of criminals trying to take advantage of the holiday spirit:
- It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes even when no charity is involved.
- Donate to a recognized charitable organization.
The holidays are also time for gatherings and parties. Remember, whether hosting or attending a party, drunk driving is unsafe and against the law. Law enforcement will be on high alert this holiday season
“Doesn’t matter how much awareness is out there [about drunk driving],” said Buschow. “There will always be people out there who drive when they shouldn’t be. Law enforcement will be out there.”
- Have non-alcoholic beverages and food available for party guests.
- Find alternative transportation for intoxicated guests.
- Arrange for an official designated driver for your party who will not drink at all.
- Know your safe limit and never drink and drive.
Traveling on the roadways during the holidays can be a stressful:
- Avoid driving alone or at night.
- Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
- Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
- When approaching and leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
Shopping around the holidays can be the most stressful activity of all:
- If you must shop at night, park in a well-lit area. .
- Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area. Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
- If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a mall or a well-lit location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.
- Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
- Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas.