Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 21, 2012

APD gives advice for holiday safety

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The Black Friday weekend means shoppers will be out in large numbers, and that’s sure to draw the interest of criminals looking for a fast buck.

Athens Police Department Lt. Michael Davis said car burglars don’t need a special occasion to come calling, and several auto break-ins have been reported in the southeast side of the city in several days. The department warns that becoming pre-occupied with holiday festivities can make you an inviting target.

Chief Buddy Hill and the department remind you to be aware and alert when in parking lots or public places.  Dress appropriately, remembering that flashy clothes and jewelry might attract unwanted attention.

When you’re going out in public, don’t go alone. If you do have to go out by yourself, walk confidently, and keep and eye on those around you. Walk near other people, don’t go in isolated areas, or take shortcuts that could expose you to danger.

When parking your vehicle, find a well-lit area as close to the building as possible. Be ready to go in the building as soon as you get out of the car. As you approach your car, look around it for someone who might be hiding. Glance in the back-seat area before opening the door to get in.

When driving, keep the windows up and doors locked. If you experience car trouble, raise the hood and turn on emergency flashers. Then wait inside your car with the doors locked, and windows rolled up. If anyone stops, call the APD, sheriff’s office or a nearby service station.

For vehicle security, APD says roll up windows and lock doors when you’re leaving. Always lock purses, valuables and packages in the trunk. Leaving them in the backseat covered with a blanket is not effective. It just tells the thief that there’s a package with a blanket on it.

When going into the store, only carry what you need. Keep your valuables, such as billfolds, identification or cellular phones close to your body.  Don’t set them down, even for a second. Instead of carrying a purse,  just take your wallet, and keep it in a front or inside pocket.

APD advises the shopper to watch for people who seem to follow you for several aisles. Don’t overload yourself, or carry more than you can comfortably handle. If you do, you’ll put yourself in an awkward position, if confronted by a criminal.

After shopping, if you feel uneasy about going to your car, ask a store employee to accompany you through the parking lot.

APD also has some safety tips for home.  Don’t leave gifts where they can be seen from the outside. If they look good around the Christmas tree, they’ll also look good to a burglar. If you’re having packages delivered during a part of the day when no one is home, ask that they be shipped to a neighbor’s house or a relatives’ residence.

When you’ve taken the item from the box, don’t put the box at the curb for trash pickup. If boxes for televisions, stereos or computers are placed outside, it lets the criminal know those items are now in your home.