At a time of the year when most Claremore residents are looking forward to presents, Claremore Police Chief Stan Brown would rather they practice presence — specifically, presence of mind, to safeguard their belongings and protect themselves during the holiday season.
“We understand how easily a person can be distracted by the hustle and bustle of the season, but that only gives would-be thieves opportunities more to make a victim out of a person who's not paying attention to their surroundings,” said Brown. “It only takes a moment for a person to be a victim of crime, and because of the nature of the holidays, there are more of those moments than almost any other time of the year, both at and away from home.”
To help ensure a safe holiday season, Brown offered the following tips to Claremore residents:
Always be mindful of your surroundings and park in well lit areas.
• If possible don’t shop alone, particularly at night, and be especially cautious when returning to your vehicle. Have your keys out and ready when you leave the store.
Never leave valuables in your car when it is unattended, even if only while you’re getting gasoline. Automobile burglaries are among the most reported crimes during the holiday seasons, Brown said.
Presents, wallets and purses left behind in an unattended vehicle are an easy target for would-be thieves.
When shopping online, only make online purchases from secured websites. Some online businesses are merely fronts that utilize personal and credit card information for illegal purposes.
Keep your purse or wallet in your physical possession at all times. Although it may be inconvenient to carry your purse the whole time you’re shopping, do not place it in your shopping cart — this only makes it more accessible to potential thieves.
Also, try to limit the amount of credit cards and cash that you take with you, so as not to call attention to the contents of your purse or wallet.
If possible, avoid driving alone at night.
Always, always, always keep all doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car.
Although it may be difficult at times, park as close as you can to your destination.
Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with small children inside.
Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. If you MUST leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight, so as not to “advertise” it to others, Brown said.
When leaving or returning to your vehicle, have keys out, and always be aware of your surroundings.
If there are suspicious persons in the area, do not approach your car alone.
When at home:
Be alert of suspicious people or vehicles in your neighborhood and help watch out for your neighbors. Any activity that arouses your suspicions should be immediately reported to the Claremore Police Department.
Avoid allowing strangers access to your home.
If possible, keep your Christmas tree, and especially Christmas gifts in an area of your home so they cannot be visible from the outside.
Always keep your windows and doors locked. This includes the use of secondary locking devices such as deadbolts.
Pay special attention that the packaging material for high dollar items (such as electronics) are placed out of view in trash receptacles for weekly garbage pickup.
If you plan to travel or leave the house for an extended length of time, leave some lights on and alert your trustworthy neighbors of your absence. If you have a home security system, be sure to arm it while you are out of the house, and in the evenings when you are home to stay.
If hosting a Christmas party at which there will be alcohol served, make sure there’s a designated driver to safely transport those who will be drinking home.
When at an Automated Teller Machines (ATM):
If you must use an ATM, select one that is located inside or in a well-lighted location.
Protect your personal identification number (PIN) by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.
Never throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location. Take it home and store it or shred it, if possible.
“Really, staying safe at Christmas boils down to being cognizant of your environment and using common sense, whether you’re out shopping, driving, or at home,” Brown said. “A few simple precautions during the holidays should help prevent someone from becoming a victim of seasonal crime, and that would really be the best Christmas present anyone could get.”