Don’t become a victim of crime this holiday season

Don’t become a victim of crime this holiday season
Baton Rouge Police Department (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Although the holiday season is a time meant for giving thanks and spending time with your loved ones, crime tends to increase, especially theft and robberies.

The best way to avoid being a victim is to be cautious and prepare.

Whether your going away for a vacation or staying home for the holiday, protecting your home should be a top priority. However, holiday decorations can often cause your home to become a target.

  1. Don’t display gifts beneath the Christmas tree that can be seen from windows or doors. Additionally, hide all of your valuables.
  2. Keep the outside of your home well lit with doors locked and window curtains closed.
  3. Create the illusion that you are home and lock all doors.
  4. Ask your neighbors for help and don’t advertise that you're going on vacation through social media sites. Consider forming a neighborhood crime watch.
  5. Invest in a good alarm system and consider including video surveillance systems.

If you plan to venture out for your holiday shopping, police suggest the following things:

  1. Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  2. Shop with a friend, there is safety in numbers.
  3. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and pay for purchases with credit or debit card. If possible, carry only your driver's license or necessary credit or debit cards.
  4. If you must carry a purse, do not wrap the straps around your arms or shoulders. Carry a clutch purse tightly under your arm or wear a fanny pack.
  5. Be alert that thieves look for the "high dollar" shopping bags with your purchases. When possible, slip bags/purchases in a plain nondescript bag.
  6. Don't overburden yourself with too many packages. Make a trip to drop off items at home if you must. If you do return to your vehicle to unload purchases, place them in the trunk of a vehicle.
  7. Have your car keys ready in hand before leaving the store.
  8. Try not to shop until the store closes. Remember, fewer people are present at this time. Ask security to escort you to your vehicle if you feel uncomfortable.

Law enforcement will tell you that most crimes happen due to opportunity:

  1. Lock your vehicle at all times and Remove all valuable items from your vehicle at night, including firearms and electronics.
  2. Prior to arriving at the shopping center, lock all your valuables in the trunk of your vehicle.
  3. Watch for people who may be following you. This can occur inside as well as outside. If you suspect someone following you, report it to security immediately.

The threat of theft isn’t just when you walk out your door. Scams also go up this time of year, and many of those happen through phone calls and online.

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