Holiday Safety

A friend just forwarded a note from her PD neighborhood action officer that has some good tips on holiday safety and security.

Starting at your home, there have been an increase in residential burglaries lately. We’ve seen a spate of them in our neighborhood. They seem to follow a pattern of backyard/backdoor entry. If you have an alley, be sure to keep your gate locked. That won’t prevent someone from jumping the back fence or wall, and we’ve seen that, too. However, that’s one additional step that may cause a burglar to think twice about robbing your house.

Make sure your back doors–especially sliding doors–and windows are secure. Again, we’ve seen windows broken to gain entry, but it’s one more step that could result in being caught.

Dogs and alarms are helpful.If you don’t have at least one of those, realize that you have a vulnerability where your neighbor may not.

Jewelry, coins, and laptop computers seem to be the target of choice lately, because they are easy to carry and easy to sell. Those things should be fairly easy to secure, but we all get careless.

Be aware that many recent break-ins lately were preceded by someone knocking on the front door. Usually they pretend to be selling something. Obviously, a burglar would be checking to see if anyone is home.

Put up a “no soliciting” sign. If you answer the door, be polite but ask to see the caller’s city-issued soliciting permit. If you are suspicious, politely decline and call the Scottsdale PD non-emergency number at 480.312.5000 and give a good description.

Also, leave your front and back patio lights on, make sure newspapers and mail don’t accumulate, and don’t let your recycle bin sit on the curb all day.

One of the best things you can do to prevent burglaries in your neighborhood is to get to know your neighbors. If you see a stranger in the neighborhood, wave, say hello, or take a moment to stop and chat. A simple, “Are you new in the neighborhood?” can be a great way to welcome a newcomer AND let a potential intruder know that you and your neighbors pay attention.

When you encounter a stranger, pay attention to details and make mental notes about clothing, stature, height, weight, distinctive features, etc. These details will be very helpful. If you see strange vehicles parked in your neighborhood, note color, make, and license plate.

If you are going to be away from home over the holidays, let your neighbors know so they can be alert for unwelcome “company” at your house. A recent burglary was foiled exactly like this, when neighbors reported a suspicious moving truck parked in a driveway where the residents were out of town.

Police departments across the country are also saying this season is going to be a bad one for mall crime and petty crime related to travel. When you go shopping, don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car. Be aware of your surroundings and those around you. Watch out for pickpockets who may “bump into you.”Don’t leave bags unattended even for a moment.

Be aware of folks who may follow you at a distance when you are on the way back to your car with bags of gifts in each hand. Be polite, say hello, let folks know you are paying attention. If your car key remote has a panic feature, know how to use it in case you feel threatened. Don’t hesitate to contact store/mall security to report suspicious behavior. It’s their job to keep an eye on things and they are usually eager to do it.

Shopping with a friend can also make you less vulnerable…and a lot more fun. Take someone from your neighborhood who doesn’t drive or otherwise doesn’t get out much and make a day of it!

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