Holiday Crime Prevention Tips
As the Holidays are upon us, so 'tis the season for an increase in crime. Because people are shopping and buying gifts, they typically have more money and merchandise on hand than usual. Criminals know and exploit this. "Harden the target" by taking these simple steps to reduce your chances of being a victim of crime:
- Carry as little cash on you as possible. If you have the option to use credit cards, debit cards, or checks, they can be canceled if stolen and provide more protection against fraud, should they be used without authorization. They also offer an opportunity for law enforcement to pursue video surveillance and transaction information should they be used fraudulently.
- Women - keep purses closed and on your person. Do not leave them unattended in shopping carts, while in the store, or loading your vehicle with purchases, children, etc.
- Do not leave valuables, gifts, and merchandise in your vehicle. Thieves know that there is a higher probability that there will be loot to steal from vehicles at this time of year, especially in shopping centers and malls, where people often return to their cars periodically to off-load. If you have to do so, put valuables in the trunk or under the security shade of a hatchback. In any case – ALWAYS LOCK YOUR CAR!
- Pay attention and be aware of your surroundings. Ask a friend or co-worker to watch or accompany you as you walk to your car, especially if parked in an isolated or poorly lit area. Have a friend or a loved one on the other end of a cell phone while walking to your car, so you have that connection until you are safe. Keep your key fob handy - most have panic buttons that will activate the car alarm, horn, and lights.
- Keep your homes locked, well-lit, and look out for your neighbors. With all the travel during the holidays, burglars and thieves will be looking for signs that you are away. Make the house look occupied as usual, and do not advertise your plans to be away on Facebook. You can advise those that need to know directly.
- When feasible, consider having neighbors hold packages delivered by UPS, Fed Ex, etc., rather than having them left on your porch. Thieves have been known to follow delivery trucks only to steal what was just delivered. Also, most businesses provide tracking numbers for items purchased and sent out for delivery. Finally, be aware of expected delivery dates and try to make yourself or a neighbor available to receive the package.
- Business owners and employees can request a police escort if leaving with large amounts of money or late at night by themselves. This is a service provided by The Southern Chester County Regional Police Department but is contingent upon our availability.
- A note on scams…If you did not play the Canadian lottery – you cannot win the Canadian lottery, so don't send money to cover the taxes on it. If you get called to bail your "grandson" out of jail – leave him there (he probably deserves it) while you call his cell to confirm his situation. And, the IRS will never call you to settle tax debt and they don't take payment in the form of gift cards. Use common sense, do some research, and never hesitate to call the police when in doubt before sending funds.
- Neighborhood awareness - you know your own neighborhood; If you see something suspicious, call 911 immediately. The Southern Chester County Regional PD is "your" police department, we are here to investigate suspicious conditions. We would rather investigate something suspicious, possibly preventing a crime from happening, as opposed to being notified of a crime after it occurs.
- Consider purchasing a wireless doorbell camera - Doorbell cameras have become increasingly affordable and easy to set up. They are an excellent resource to have in case you are a victim of a theft from your porch/property. They provide clear, high-definition images of the perpetrator(s), which you can provide to the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department. These crimes are usually difficult to investigate, however, if we have an image/images of the suspects, it greatly enhances the ability to identify and prosecute these criminals.
The SCCRPD wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!