The Abingdon Police Department has put together a list of things you can do around the house to prevent a break-in during the holidays. By practicing the following safety tips, you can keep yourself and your home safe.
§ During the holidays, the potential for thefts and robberies increases because of the number of distractions created with the holiday shopping season. With this in mind, you should practice the following holiday safety tips:
§ Contact the police immediately, by dialing 9-1-1, if you suspect a crime is about to occur or if you suspect illegal activity is taking place. Remember: See something, say something!
§ Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. If you must leave packages in your car, put them in the trunk, and keep your receipts with you.
§ Do not leave electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, lap top computers, GPS devices, and digital cameras in plain view. When exiting your vehicle take these items with you or lock them in your trunk.
§ Carry your valuables wisely. Do not keep cash in your wallet. Instead, keep it in a front or inside pocket; and only carry the credit cards that you know you will need.
§ Avoid overloading yourself with bags and packages. Have your keys in your hand ready to use when you leave the store. If you see a suspicious person or group around your car, use your remote to activate the car alarm.
§ Try to complete all shopping before dark. If you must shop after dark, use the buddy system and whenever possible, park and walk in well-lit areas. Be aware of your surroundings, especially the people around you.
§ Carry your purse close to you, with the opening or flap towards your body. Never leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart.
§ Do not keep a wallet, credit cards or cash in a backpack. If you are carrying a backpack in a crowd, consider carrying the backpack in front of you.
§ Protect your credit card numbers and other personal information. Carefully dispose of receipts that have a credit card number on them. Never provide credit card information in response to unsolicited calls or emails.
§ Keep a record of your credit card numbers so you will have your numbers available if they are stolen or lost.
§ Don't announce your new high-dollar purchases after the holidays. Break down the boxes of TVs, computers, etc. and turn them inside out before putting them in the trash.
§ If you are traveling for the holidays, make your home look "lived in". Have a friend or neighbor collect your mail and newspapers, or have your service suspended while you are away. Use timers to turn interior lights off and on.
§ Trim back any bushes or trees that block visibility through your house. Check all of the entryways into your home (windows and doors) to make sure that they are secured. Secure any sliding glass doors with a lock and a dowel in the door track.
§ If your home is equipped with an alarm system, make sure that you and your family are using it. Alarm systems and alarm advertisements are a good crime prevention method.
§ If leaving your home for several hours, find ways to make your house look occupied. Placing interior and exterior lights on timers or leaving on a radio or T.V. may be a quick deterrent.
§ Exterior holiday lights do more than make your house look festive; they also light up the areas around windows and doors where thieves may hide.
§ Retain the receipts for all major purchases in a safe place. If possible, record the serial number of the property on the corresponding receipt or in another list for safekeeping. In the event that these items do get stolen, this record will maintain proof of the purchase and aid police in tracking down the stolen item.
§ Be cautious about solicitors, especially during this time of year. A stop at your doorway may provide them the opportunity to look inside of your house for valuable items and map the layout for a later return.
§ If ordering items to be delivered to the house, ask that they be delivered at time when you will be home and able to accept the package. Large packages left on doorsteps are susceptible to opportunistic burglars passing through the neighborhood.
§ Many people love to display a brightly-lit Christmas tree with presents around the skirt. If visible through a window or doorway, this can be tempting for burglars scouting the neighborhood. Reconsider hiding the presents in a secure place and placing them under the tree at the last minute.
If you are traveling for the holidays:
§ Don't advertise any trips away from your home or travel plans on online social networking sites. Broadcasting your absences let people know that your house is unoccupied and vulnerable.
§ If you are traveling for the holidays, consider find a trusted neighbor to protect your home in your absence. Have all mail and newspapers collected or have your service suspended. Provide a key to your home to the trusted neighbor so that they can make your house look occupied, either by turning on lights, turning on the radio, or moving a car in the driveway. Notify your local police department that you will be away for an extended time period and provide the information for the neighbor who will be watching your home.
§ If leaving a dog at home for the holidays, consider having a trusted neighbor or friend pet sit at the house instead of using a kennel. Dogs of all sizes can be a deterrent to burglars.
Please contact the police immediately, by dialing 9-1-1, if you suspect a crime is about to occur or if you suspect illegal activity is taking place.
We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!