The time period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is one of the busiest times for most people. With Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year celebrations, it is the season for shopping, gift giving, and hosting and going to parties.
Burglars get into the holiday mood and love this time of year, too. With many homes full of expensive new toys, gifts and electronic gadgets, this is a prime time of year for them to strike. Don’t let the joy of the holiday season let you drop your guard and practically invite a criminal to visit you or your home. This page covers the topics of being safe and secure when you go out shopping, keeping your home secure and not inviting for burglars and robbers, and keeping your home safe for your friends and family members.
Holiday Shopping Security
- Always park in well lit and visible areas. If you’re easily seen by others, then so is the criminal.
- Avoid making several trips to drop off items in your car. This attracts unwanted attention. If possible, wait until the end of your shopping before you return to your car. If you’re carrying a lot of items, ask if a security guard or store manager can escort you through the parking lot. Most stores and shopping malls will gladly provide you with extra security for no cost.
- Report suspicious people to security.
- Be careful when carrying or setting down shopping bags. It’s very easy for somebody to reach inside walk off with one of your items or even your wallet or cell phone.
- When returning to your vehicle, make sure your key is out and ready to unlock the vehicle.
- From a safe distance, glance under and around your vehicle for a robber. Somebody hiding under your car can easily grab your feet, cut the back of your heel (Achilles tendon) and immobilize you. They’ll be off with your items or jump into and race away with your car before you can call for help.
- Look through the car’s windows and make sure nobody is waiting in the back seat or rear cargo area waiting to jump you.
- Don’t forget to take back your credit card or driver’s license when paying for merchandise. The next person in line can easily reach over and grab it before you realize that it’s missing.
- If shopping out late or in strange areas, take a friend or go with a group of people. Most robbers are going to target a single person in an isolated area and not those walking with a few other people.
- Be aware of other drivers whom may be hostile, distracted or intoxicated. A car wreck or road rage can easily ruin your holiday. Take your time and plan for delays when driving, and don’t fight a person who tries to take your parking spot. People tend to be under extra pressure during this time of year and may start fighting with you over petty or no reason.
Holiday Home Security
- Avoid keeping gifts in view of uncovered windows. A Christmas tree with lots of presents under it gets burglars and thieves excited, too. Use drapes and curtains if you’re planning on celebrating the holidays in rooms with ground floor windows.
- Be careful exposing expensive gifts immediately after the holidays. New laptops and large high-definition TVs are cool, but you don’t want to put them on display for the world to see through your windows.
- Cut up and dispose of large boxes discretely. A new TV, computer or laptop is a great gift, but that big, empty box by the curb tells the world what they can find in your home.
- If you’re going to be hosting a large party with lots of people, make sure that your valuables are secure in a locked room. This is especially true if there will be strangers (also known as friends of friends) in your home. Take the safe route and keep valuables locked away in a room away from the party.
- Report any suspicious activity near your home to the police. Many burglars and robbers go on scouting runs before they break into homes. They may even have garbage men report back expensive boxes by curbs and anything else interesting that they may find on their routes.
Holiday Home Safety
- Use flame-resistant material when decorating your home. Christmas lights, candles and fireplaces can easily start a fire and burn down a house.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets with lots of appliances. This could overload the circuit and start sparks or cause a power failure.
- Keep sharp or breakable decorations well out of reach of small children and pets.
- Make sure your Christmas tree has a steady base and won’t tip over. If necessary, use string to secure it to a wall.
- Never leave space heaters on or burning fireplaces unattended, especially when you go to bed!
- When cooking, do not leave kitchen stoves / ranges unattended! A flare-up can easily set your kitchen on fire and burn down your house.
- Make sure all of the Christmas lights decorations are safely turned off before you go to bed.
- Make sure you have at least one tested and operational fire extinguisher in your home. Review the operating instructions before setting up lights or using a fireplace.
Remember that the holidays should be a joyous time for you and your family. Being aware of your surroundings and keeping a look out for safety and security hazards will help ensure that you will have a safe and memorable time. Do not let burglars and robbers take advantage of your holiday experience.