The upcoming holiday season is sure to bring joy to many, but also lots of smashed car windows for crooks who thrive this time of year.
Holiday shoppers and distracted drivers can make easy pickings for thieves, explains Sergeant Philip Bennett, Harris County Constable, Precinct 5, who leads the patroller team that helps watch out over the Energy Corridor District.
Along with the traditional increase in crime, the approaching holidays are also a time when traffic accidents rise, helped by drivers who just aren’t paying attention.
“One out of five accidents traffic accidents is caused by distracted driving,” explains Bennett. “Keeping your eyes on the road and saving texting for later can help avoid potentially expensive and injurious accidents.”
As for holiday crimes like vehicle break ins and robberies, people often can thwart thieves’ intentions by paying attention and following some simple safety habits, security specialists advise.
Leaving packages, backpacks, valuables, mobile phones and other electronics in plain sight on car seats or floorboards is a sure temptation to thieves who spend the holiday season cruising parking lots. A vehicle break-in takes seconds and can be accomplished without anyone hearing a window smash. Hiding valuables in the trunk or at least out of sight can be a deterrent.
Other parking lot tips to embrace:
• Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells or cars with dark tinted windows.
• Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
• If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.
• Park close to your destination and take notice of where you parked.
• When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
• Do not put purses, handbags or parcels on top of the car while opening the door; instead, keep a secure hold on these easy-to-grab items.
• Have your keys ready before going to your car.
• Ask mall or store security for an escort to your vehicle; that’s part of their job.
• Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
• If you must use an ATM, choose one inside a mall or well-lit location.
• Withdraw only the amount of cash needed.
• Protect your PIN; shield the ATM keypad from anyone standing nearby.
• Do not throw ATM receipts away at the ATM location.
Holiday shopping tips:
• Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry; dress casually and comfortably.
• If possible, don’t carry a purse or wallet; thieves look for these targets.
• Keep cash in a front pocket.
• Though you may be rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
• Be wary of strangers approaching you for any reason; autumn is a time when con artists often try distracting victims to separate them from their money or belongings.
• If your credit card gets stolen, misused or misplaced, notify the card issuer immediately.
Hosting / Attending Holiday Party Tips:
• Have non-alcoholic beverages available for party guests.
• For intoxicated guests, find alternative transportation.
• Arrange for a designated driver for your party who will not drink at all.
• Eat high protein foods that will stay in the stomach longer and slow alcohol absorption into your system.
• Never drink and drive.