The holidays are a time for celebration with family, friends and neighbors. But the hectic pace can also present increased risks with crowded stores, traffic, stress and greater opportunities for thieves to target your purchases, valuables and personal information. Take a few precautions to help yourself and your family enjoy a safe holiday season. Increase your attention to locking your home and vehicles. Take the time to lock your home or car even if you will be gone for only a few minutes. Busy people can become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crimes.
- Shop during the day if possible. If you must shop at night, go with a companion.
- Dress casually and comfortably. Don’t wear expensive jewelry.
- Carry a small wallet with your ID, necessary cash and one credit card, and put this wallet in a safe pocket. Or carry a small purse and hold it close to you. Make photocopies of your ID and credit cards and keep them in a safe place – just in case.
- Carefully keep your wallet or purse in your possession. Do not store it in a shopping cart or set it down on a counter or the floor in a restaurant. Such practices are invitations to purse snatchers or thieves who are watching for exactly that sort of carelessness during this time of year.
- Put your purchases in the trunk of your car or out of view. This caution applies to your home as well: don’t leave gifts or purchases where they can be easily seen from outside your home. Leaving packages in plain view is an invitation to a
break in. Also, putting boxes or cartons from electronics or other desirable gifts by the curb on trash day is often all thieves need to break in and help themselves to your purchase. Break down cartons and bag the wrappings.
- If you are ordering online and expect a package to arrive when you will not be home, instruct the vendor or carrier to leave the package with a neighbor. Many gifts don’t make it to their rightful owner because they were left on the front porch and disappeared.
- Avoid overloading yourself with bags and packages. Clear visibility and freedom of motion are safety measures.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con-artists attempt to distract you with the intention of taking your money or belongings. If someone approaches you and you fear that they do not have your best intentions in mind, put up your hand and say, “stop” in a very loud voice. This will attract attention, which a stalker does not want.
- Even though you might be rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
- If you leave your home for an extended time, ask a neighbor or family member to keep watch. Stop your newspaper delivery and have your mail held.
- Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer. A radio or TV turned on gives the impression that the house is occupied.
- Make sure that your holiday decorations are secure so children, elderly people or pets don’t get tangled or trip. Ensure any wiring and electrical cords aren’t damaged or frayed.
- Be sure that your out-of-town guests lock doors and have keys. This seems obvious but more often than you would expect a burglar gets into a house because the doors are not locked.
- Though you might be tempted to broadcast your holiday travel or shopping plans, resist the urge to tell the world that you will not be home. This over communication can make you an easy robbery target.
- If you have an alarm system, use it. Make it a habit even if you are rushing around and distracted. This simple step can go a long way to protect you and your home.
Drink responsibly. Alcohol-related accidents and deaths are particularly high during the holidays. If you are hosting an event, remember that you are responsible. Keep a close eye on your guests and their consumption of alcohol. Offer plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives and do not let anyone drive impaired. Be certain that your guests have chosen a designated driver and that you do the same when you attend a get-together.
Myths vs. Facts About Drinking and Driving (Source MADD)
Myth: Coffee can sober up someone who has had too much to drink.
Fact: Only time sobers. It takes about one hour to oxidize each drink.
Myth: Hard liquor is more intoxicating than beer or wine.
Fact: A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler contain the same amount of alcohol and the same intoxication potential as 1-1/2 oz. of liquor.
Myth: Someone who has had too much to drink will look intoxicated.
Fact: Someone’s physical appearance can be misleading. One drink can impair someone’s ability to drive. Judgment is the first thing affected when someone has been drinking and important motor skills are next.
Leadership Pasco Criminal Justice Day
On October 15th, 2015, the Leadership Pasco class of 2016 participated in Criminal Justice Day sponsored by Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A. and chaired by Attorney Craig Laporte. This program day is always favored as it is an interactive and highly informative presentation. Sheriff Nocco and the command staff were present and interacted with the class for the whole day, showing their level of commitment to educating the community about law enforcement in Pasco County. Participants were introduced to the K-9 unit and the
level of training and dedication by both the officers and the dogs who are part of this program. From the initial surprise SWAT demonstration, helicopter pilot demonstration, walk through the jail, use of body cameras and more, the participants were fully engaged. The day came to a close with Sheriff Nocco asking everyone to please help us and lock your car doors.” His reference was to the rash of car break-ins and how, as citizens, we can help the Sheriff and his officers keep Pasco and its citizens safe. Because the Criminal Justice Day is eye-opening for most class participants, the usual recommendation from the program surveys is to extend the experience to two days!