Cop Talk: How can I stay safe through the holiday season?Q: With the approach of the holiday season, what can I do to stay safe and help reduce the likelihood of my house being burglarized?
By: By Chad Schroeder, Alexandria Police Department, Alexandria Echo Press
Q: With the approach of the holiday season, what can I do to stay safe and help reduce the likelihood of my house being burglarized?
A: With Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays fast approaching, taking a few extra steps can help keep this season safe, festive and fun. Here are some easy tips that anyone can take to help ensure this is the best season possible.
First, if you are traveling, make sure you have gifts and other valuables out of sight and lock your residence. Also, have lights on automatic timers. Additionally, have a neighbor or friend shovel the driveway and sidewalk and have them collect mail or put a hold on your mail through the United States Postal Service.
Do not post on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites that you are going out of town, or that you are out of town. After you get back home again, if you want to post something about your trip then that is OK. Putting this information online before you go can help some people with an ill will take advantage of an empty residence.
As you are shopping, there are also some steps you can take to keep you and your family safe. Park in well-lit areas of the parking lot and be familiar with your surroundings as well as where you are parked.
Keep valuables out of sight in the vehicle and keep your vehicle locked. If you are taking children with you, teach them who they can turn to if they get lost or separated from the adult they are with. They could go to a security guard, police officer or an employee of the store.
Hold younger children’s hands if possible, or have them hang on to the cart you are using. It’s amazing how fast a young child can disappear when they see something that catches their eye.
Don’t be in too much of a rush and be alert to what is going on around you. Keep an eye out for anyone that may be acting suspiciously.
Other steps to take include not carrying large amounts of cash, but instead, use a check or credit card for purchases. Also, do not discard receipts for purchases until you get home. These receipts could be misused for returning stolen property or possibly identity theft.
Some other easy things that can be done to keep your residence safer are to lock your doors and windows, even if you only intend to be gone for a short time. Also keep gifts, electronics, jewelry and other valuables out of sight, so someone cannot see them if they look through your windows. Turn on outside lights and report suspicious activity or suspicious people to your law enforcement agency.
In Alexandria, the police department telephone number is (320) 763-6631. It can also be helpful to get to know your neighbors and look out for each other. You could even start a neighborhood watch group.
If you would like to know more about neighborhood watch, or start your own group neighborhood watch group, please contact the Alexandria Police Department by telephone or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alexandria Police Department and the Echo Press have teamed together to create “Cop Talk, Ask the Alexandria Police Department.” Each article will feature an answer to a question from a reader, a safety tip or some timely topic. If you have a question about crime prevention or safety, send an e-mail to email@example.com.