The holiday season can be one of the most joyous times of the year, but it also one of the busiest times for criminal activity. Childersburg Police Chief Rick McClelland says that there are plenty of things you can do to greatly reduce the likelihood of becoming a crime victim.

“It all starts with staying alert,” said Chief McClelland, “It’s easy to get distracted this time of year, but you need to concentrate on your surroundings, especially when you are away from your familiar routine.”

It’s a great opportunity to strengthen your relationships with your neighbors, “Working with and communication with your neighbors is always important, but creating a heightened neighbor watch is even more important this time of year. Make sure everyone is paying attention, looking for things that stand out as a bit odd. Don’t be afraid to call and report your suspicions. That’s what the police are for.”

Another important idea on which to focus is using locks, “Lock your home. Lock your vehicles, even when you’re unloading and coming right back for another load. And one thing many people neglect is making certain that tools and equipment are stored away, locked away inside a garage or utility shed. And speaking of storage, if you rent a space in a storage facility, be extra diligent in keeping an eye on it, physically check them out several times a week.”

Are you planning on being out of town during some portion of the holidays? Get your neighbors to keep a watch for you, pick up your mail and newspapers, call the police department and alert them to the fact of when you’ll be away. And here’s a tip that most forget – compile a list of important phone numbers and use that list while your away. Make sure neighbors and police know how and where to find you in case of an emergency.

“Did you notice that domestic disturbances went up during Thanksgiving week?” Asked McClelland, “Well, we certainly noticed. This time of year is prime time for such. Take the extra step to keep the peace at home. Nothing spoils a family gathering more than getting law enforcement involved.”

Besides break-ins, the holiday season has become an important time for con artists to try to separate you from your money, “If it sounds too good to be true, believe me, it’s a scam,” said McClelland. Do NOT exchange money with strangers. Someone asking for change could easily be swapping your good money for something counterfeit, or setting you up for another crime.”

When you are out shopping, it’s always best to at least out in pairs. Park only in well-lit parking areas and have your keys ready well before you get to your vehicle. Don’t overload yourself with packages, because that just makes you more vulnerable. Store packages in your vehicle trunk or some other place out of sight.

We all expect our homes to be a safe haven from crime,” said McClelland, “But that takes a bit of effort. Use lights and timers to create the illusion that someone is home, even when no one is there. If you have outdoor lights, use them and make certain they are working properly.”

A lot of people shop on-line these days, and that means having packages delivered to your home,” explained McClelland. If you’re not certain that someone will be there to receive them promptly, make other arrangements. Maybe have a stay-at-home neighbor accept them. There are businesses such as Goin’ Postal that can take your packages and hold them for you.”

Chief McClelland has one other important idea you need to consider, “Crooks are getting sharper and more creative every day. Stay alert and even a bit suspicious of anything and everything out of the ordinary. And if there’s even a sliver of doubt in your mind, report it to the authorities.”

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