This holiday season, don't let the spirit of giving lull you into giving crooks a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but chiefly because it's an opportune time to commit a crime.
Homes jam-packed with glittering packages. Stores, malls and downtown streets teeming with unsuspecting shoppers. People rushing around, stressed out and careless, looking for last-minute gifts, trying to get everything done. It's enough to make a crook giddy with holiday joy.
Here are some tips on how to celebrate safely this holiday season.
If You Are Traveling
- Get automatic timers for a couple of your interior lights to go on and off at different times.
- Ask a neighbor to watch your home; have them collect your mail, newspapers and circulars.
If You Are Out For The Evening
- Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone is home.
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it is just for a few minutes.
- Don't display gift where they can be seen from the outside.
- Don't leave your Christmas tree lights on.
If You Are Out Shopping
- Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.
- Park in a well-lighted area, and be sure to lock the car, roll up the windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk or out of sight. Re-park your car if you have placed packages in the trunk and plan on doing more shopping.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with credit card, check or travelers checks.
- Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Consider carrying a fanny pack instead. Carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put your wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
- Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
If A Stranger Comes To The Door, Beware
Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. And it is not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there is no charity involved. Ask for identification and find out how the funds will be used. If you aren't satisfied, don't give a donation. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.
Remember, door-to-door solicitors have to carry a permit issued by the City of Escondido. Check for the permit and proper identification. Permits are issued for 30 days, and the expiration date is listed on the permit. The permits must be in the original format (no copies). Don't hesitate to call the Escondido Police Department at 760-839-4722 to report suspicious people going door-to-door, especially those who do not have permits.