Crime prevention tips for the holidays

By Sgt. Michael DeMaine - East Hartford Police Dept.
Connecticut - posted Fri., Dec. 6, 2013
Be prepared to enjoy the holidays by following these safety measures to keep yourself and your family out of harm’s way. For questions, call your local police department. - Contributed Photo

The following suggestions have been formulated to help residents stay safe during the holiday season:

Shopping Tips

• Keep your purse close to your body.
• Avoid talking on cell phones as you walk through malls or parking lots. Phone conversations are a distraction that makes you vulnerable to robbers.
• Don’t resist if someone tries to take any of your belongings. Don’t chase someone who robs you, they may have a weapon. Call 911.
• If you go to an automatic teller machine for cash, check for people around and make sure it is well-lit and in a safe location.
• Carry only the credit cards you need and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
• Do not buy more than you can carry.
• If you make a purchase with your credit card, be sure to obtain the carbons or see that they are destroyed in front of you.
• If you are shopping with small children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.

Online Shopping

• Beware of “a good deal” scams. Things are not always what they appear to be.
•  Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating security software.
• Keep your personal information private and your passwords secure.
• When ordering on-line use a credit card instead of a debit card. It is much easier to cancel a credit card if an account number is illegally obtained.
• Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
•Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
• Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.

Car Safety

• When parking your vehicle to go shopping, remember where you parked it!  Always park in a well-lit and well-traveled area. Do not park in a remote, dark area.
• When you return to your vehicle, scan the interior of your car to be sure no one is hiding inside. Check to see if you are being followed.
• Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. You will be ready to unlock the door and will not be delayed by fumbling and looking for your keys.
• When storing items purchased at the stores, place them out of sight. The best place is in a locked trunk.
• Do not leave your purse, wallet, or cellular telephone in plain view.
• Drive defensively. Traffic is heavier during the holidays. Drivers may also have indulged in too much holiday spirits.

Home Safety

• Always lock your doors and windows, even if you plan to be out for a short amount of time.
• Leave lights turned on both inside and outside your residence after dark. Criminals don’t like bright places.
• If you plan on being away from home for several days, make arrangements to have someone pick up your mail and newspapers. An overstuffed mailbox is sure sign that no one is home and burglars are tempted to check those envelopes for holiday gifts. The use of automatic lights inside the home will give an appearance that someone is present.
• Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
• When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doorways and passageways are clear inside your home.
• Be sure your Christmas tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves.
• If you use lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring may cause a fire.
• If you are purchasing toys for small children, be sure that they are safe. You will be surprised what a small child can swallow or what can injure them.

Partying Tips

• Have something to eat before consuming alcoholic beverages.
• Eat high-protein foods that will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system.
• Remember, only time will eliminate the alcohol from your body.
• Have a designated driver or a cab to ensure your safe travels home.
• Know your safe limit; and never drink and drive.

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