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      Safety Tips for the Holiday Season       

By Officer Mario DePasquale

The holiday season is upon us once again. The month of December is well known as being the month in which most people do their shopping for the Holidays. It’s the month in which all the stores are crowded with people trying to buy presents for family and friends. Shoppers, however, aren’t the only people out during the Holidays. With such large amounts of people out and about, it is also the time of year in which thieves are out doing their "shopping".

Traditionally, the Christmas Season is the time of year in which the highest number of thefts occur. These thefts include the items that are stolen out of vehicles and the items that are stolen from people themselves. There are, however, some guidelines that you can follow to reduce the risk of becoming a victim:

Always make sure that you lock you car doors. This is a good habit to get into. This is especially important when you park your car and leave it unattended. You can do this while you are driving as well.

When leaving items of value inside the car while you are away, remember to put them into the trunk or glove box. Items that are easily seen are items that are easily stolen.

If you are parking at night, park your car in a well-lit and populated area of the lot.

If possible, take a "Shopping Buddy" with you.

When making purchases, avoid unnecessarily taking large amounts of cash out of your wallet/purse. When you do this, you are allowing a potential thief to see that you have a significant amount of money on you. Debit cards that are given out by your bank are a very good alternative. Never give a cashier the PIN number.

Make sure that your purse is closed whenever you aren’t digging through it.

Be aware of the other people in the parking lots as you are walking to and from your car.

DO NOT HESITATE to call the local police to report any suspicious activity. You, the citizen, are the eyes and ears of the police. There is no such thing as a "silly" phone call to the police.

The Holiday Season is meant to be a joyous one. If you take the few extra moments to practice some of these techniques, you are helping to reduce the chances of becoming a victim. Let’s all work together to make the Holiday Season a safe one.

Mario DePasquale is an officer with a suburban Chicago police department. A graduate of Culver-Stockon College in Canton, Missouri, he has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Officer DePasquale has an interest in sharing his knowledge and experiences as a street patrol officer with the SafetyCops readership. We look forward to future articles from him.


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