Unfortunately, during Thanksgiving and Christmas, many cities see an uptick in crime, especially crimes such as burglaries.
For instance, last Thanksgiving, police in West, TX received multiple calls on Thanksgiving night regarding vehicle and home burglaries.
At least nine vehicles and two homes were burglarized, with all of them having been left unlocked for easy entry by the thieves.
Police identified the suspects responsible for the break-ins as Jacob Claridy, 17, and a 16-year-old boy who was questioned and later released to his parents. The two allegedly took items including cash, purses, cellphones and credit cards, among other things.
According to police, both boys had items on them that had been taken from the cars and homes when police spoke with them. West Police Chief Darryl Barton said, “West is blessed with a low crime rate, but crime can happen anywhere and definitely at any time, we hope residents will remember to secure their vehicles and their homes all year.”
The reality is, during the holiday season, crimes increase since thieves are more brazen targeting homes and people who they think have valuables. Oftentimes, the average person will carry more cash and have more expensive items in their cars and homes since they will be doing more shopping for gifts.
This is why you need to know some simple safety tips that can hopefully prevent you from being the victim of a crime during a time you should be enjoying yourself with your friends and family.
Avoid shopping at night. Criminals target shoppers at night when it’s dark outside and when there are fewer witnesses around. So, when possible, try to do all your holiday shopping during the day.
In addition, you should also keep one of your hands free from carrying bags. You want one of your hands free so that you can draw your gun, pull a knife or throw a punch, if someone tries to attack you.
Pay with a single card. Over the past few years, one of the major crimes during the holiday season is when criminals watch folks as they pay at the register. Essentially, these criminals are looking at the amount of cash or number of credit cards a person carries.
Obviously, if someone has multiple hundred-dollar bills it will catch a criminal’s attention. So, just use common sense when paying for gifts and don’t pull out a wallet bursting with cash or dozens of credit cards.
Leave the lights/TV on. Even if you think you live in Mayberry, please lock your doors and windows. I know many people think nothing will happen in their small town but criminals like to travel to smaller towns just to commit their crimes.
They know doors are likely to be unlocked even when people are gone. If you plan to travel during the holidays, make sure you have a neighbor pick up your mail/newspaper, take your trash cans out and even park a car in your driveway.
Lastly, don’t forget to leave the lights on outside the house and set your alarm. (I knew a fellow once who got robbed and he forgot to set his alarm before he left on the trip.)
Be cautious with strangers. During the holidays, many folks receive more packages, along with having more solicitors come by their homes asking for donations. You clearly need to be cautious when dealing with any strangers at your front door.
Never open your front door unless you know the person and if they are simply delivering a package ask them to leave it at the door. You never know when it’s a criminal who’s casing your house and wants a peek inside to see how wealthy the place looks.
File a travel plan. If you plan to travel during the holidays, make sure you have a detailed travel route and let someone know the roads/airlines you will be taking. Share your entire travel itinerary with a family member so they know what your plans are in case they need to check on you.
If you are driving a long distance make sure you know the weather forecast and have a 72-hour kit in your car along with plenty of blankets and gear to stay warm if you become stranded.
I hope you don’t have any issues during Christmas or Thanksgiving but, unfortunately, criminals never rest and they like to take advantage of people who let their guard down during the holidays.