This holiday season is an opportune time for burglars and thieves to commit crimes. Homes jam-packed with glittering gifts. Stores, malls and downtown full of unsuspecting shoppers. People are rushing around, stressed and careless, looking for last-minutes gifts, trying to get everything done.

DO YOUR PART TO MAKE THE HOLIDAYS A SAFE AND HAPPY TIME FOR EVERYONE EXCEPT THE CRIMINALS.

Here are some tips on how to celebrate safely this holiday season:

  • Be careful when shopping on line
    • Use only secured websites
    • Check your credit card statement to insure you have only charges you made listed
    • Turn on lights, music or a television so that it looks like someone is home
    • Be extra cautious and insure you lock all doors and windows when you leave
    • Do not display gifts where they can be seen from the outside
    • Turn off the lights on your Christmas tree
    • Candles are a big part of the celebration of Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza. Make sure to extinguish all candles when you leave your house
    • Try not to use an ATM at night or after dark
    • Try to use ATMS that are located inside malls, or in well-lit areas
    • If anyone is standing near you, use your body to shield your PIN
    • Do not throw away your ATM receipt at the location
    • Try not to draw out large sums of money
    • If you feel uncomfortable about anyone standing near you or you see anything suspicious in the area: immediately cancel your transaction, retrieve your ATM card and leave the area immediately
    • Call law enforcement
    • Be alert to anyone soliciting donations door to door for charitable causes
    • Donate to only recognized charitable organizations
    • Be cautious about opening your door to strangers
    • If you are expecting packages leave a note asking the carrier (UPS, Federal Express, USPS etc) to not leave packages if you will not be home
    • Advise them to leave you a notice and you will pick up the packages from their facility
    • If at all possible, avoid shopping at night or after dark
    • If evening is the only time you can shop, try to not shop alone
    • If you start shopping during the day but know you will still be shopping when it gets dark, park under a light
    • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings when walking to your car
    • Have your keys in hand when walking to your car.
    • Searching for car keys can make you vulnerable
    • Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, and close the windows
    • Utilize your car alarm system if you have one
    • Do not leave packages and shopping bags on the seat or in the car
    • Lock packages/purchases in your trunk
    • Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with campers, or vehicles with darkened windows
    • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash: pay by check, credit card or debit card
    • Be extra careful during the holidays; purses and wallets are prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping malls
    • Deter pick pockets and purse-snatchers: ▪ Women should carry a purse close to their body ▪ Men should put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket
    • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion
    • Report any suspicious activity you observe in a shopping mall to Mall Security
    • Many malls increase law enforcement presence during the holidays and have officers on foot patrol
    • Never leave children alone in the car
    • Never let children out of your sight
    • Never allow children to go unaccompanied to the restroom
    • Teach your children a few holiday shopping safety rules if they are with you
    • Teach them their full name, address, and telephone number
    • Teach them to tell you immediately if someone is bothering them
    • Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if they get separated from you
    • DON’T drink and drive–designate a driver
    • The “Avoid the 18” program will be in operation from now through New Years. The 18 law enforcement agencies in the County of Monterey will be once again be on the lookout for DUI drivers in an effort to make the roads safe this holiday season.
    • Ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers
    • Ask a trusted neighbor to park a car in your driveway
    • Don’t display holiday gifts where they can be seen from a window
    • Set indoor and outdoor lights on an automatic timer
    • Traffic on city streets, county roads and highways always dramatically increases during  the holidays. Add holiday stress to this and you will need to be even more attentive then normal to avoid getting into an accident.
    • To insure your complete attention to the road you should NOT use a cellular phone while driving, unless it is hands free. And please do not text while you are driving
    • If you are under 18 yrs of age the law prohibits you from talking on a cell phone even with a hands free devise.
    • Studies have shown that even with both hands on the steering wheel, if you are talking on a cellular phone, your brain is still not able to pay full attention to the road and cars around you.
    • If you need to make or answer a call it is always safest to pull over.  Do so safely and make sure you are not impeding traffic. 
    • Mark electronic and other valuable items with an engraver
    • Engravers can be purchased at most hardware stores
    • Jewelry and items that can not be engraved can be photographed or videotaped

    HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON.