(Editor's Note: Re-printed with permission from the city of Lilburn. This article is included in the city's winter newsletter.)
With the holidays rapidly approaching, our thoughts turn to buying, giving and receiving gifts, visiting friends and family, and sharing delightful culinary experiences.
However, there are others whose thoughts are occupied with unattended houses or apartments, distracted shoppers with extra cash in a purse or wallet, or the next con job in the name of Christmas charity.
Statistics show that crime usually increases during and after the holiday season. The reason is very simple: more people with more cash, gifts, gift cards and other valuables are out and about, which presents more opportunities for the criminal looking for an easy score.
Even though the routine and structure of work, school, appointments, and meetings have altered somewhat, now is the time to be especially mindful of personal safety, online safety, and to practice crime prevention measures.
Here are some general tips to keep you and your property safe during and after the holiday season:
1. If you are traveling:
- Put an automatic timer on your lights.
- Ask a neighbor to check your home.
- Remember to have your mail and newspaper delivery stopped.
2. If you are out of the house:
- Make it look like someone is home by turning on lights and music or the television.
- Be sure that your doors and windows are locked.
- Keep gifts out of sight from outside the house.
- If you plan to have packages delivered to your home:
- Make sure you are home to accept them or have the package sent to the nearest post office.
3. If you are shopping online:
- Shop with companies you know and trust.
4. If you are shopping at the mall or a store:
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
- Park in a well-lighted space.
- Be sure to lock your car, close windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
- Deter pickpockets and pursesnatchers by carrying a purse close to your body in the front.
- If you are carrying a wallet, place it inside your coat or in a front pants pocket.
5. If shopping with kids, have a plan before you go:
- For older children designate a central meeting spot and teach younger children to seek help from a store clerk or security guard.
- Be sure they know your name (not just mommy and daddy), cell phone number, and address.
- Review the dangers of strangers with them, so they know who to avoid, who not to talk to, and who not to follow.
For more information about safety during the holidays, contact Lilburn Police Capt. Ben Haynes at 770-921-2211.