Exercise caution when

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2000

shopping for Christmas


Staff Writer

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This holiday season, don’t let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars and thieves a better chance to do their dirty work.

Criminals love the holiday as much as everyone else, but mostly because it’s an opportune time for crime.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said the holiday season can be made much more jolly by following some safety tips.

Those glittering Christmas trees are draws for would-be grinches because a tree means gifts and gifts mean loot that can be sold for cash.

Stores, shopping centers and downtown streets are also packed with unsuspecting shoppers who are rushing around and may not be as careful while looking for last-minute gifts.

So, when out at the stores, shoppers need to stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around them. It’s also a good idea not to carry large amounts of cash.

To deter pick pockets and purse-snatchers, the National Crime Prevention Council recommends not carrying too many packages and to carry purses close to the body and not dangling by straps. Men should put wallets in an inside coat or front pants pocket.

When parking the car, make sure packages are not in plain view and be sure doors are locked and windows are closed. Another tip is to park in a well lighted area because more the more visible a vehicle, the less likely it is to be a target of criminals.

Children should be reminded to go to a store clerk, security guard or police officer if they get separated during a shopping trip.

Since many people travel during the holidays, there are some things to do before leaving home.

If traveling, get an automatic timer for lights; ask a neighbor to watch your home,

park in the driveway from time to time and pick up newspapers and mail that will be a sure sign nobody’s home if it’s allowed to accumulate.

While homeowners are out celebrating with family and friends, a burglar could be lurking in the neighborhood just waiting for someone to leave.

When leaving for the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television so it appears someone is home. Also be extra cautious about locking doors and windows before leaving and don’t display gifts where they can be seen from the outside.

Although it might be hard to believe, some crooks will pose as those working to spread joy.

Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering packages.

It’s also not uncommon for people to take advantage of others’ generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there is not charity, but themselves, involved. So, ask for identification and find out how funds will be used before handing over cash. Those who want to give can always do so with an organization they know and like, instead.

Everage said taking safety precautions can better assure one of a happy holiday season.