Crime increases during holidays — safety tips from BPS officers this season

Published 10:42 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The holiday season is a time of giving. But for some, it’s also a time of taking. Many criminals see Christmas as an opportunity to break into homes and cars to steal purchased gifts or money.
There are many ways for Decatur County residents to keep their homes, vehicles and themselves safe from thieves.
“First of all, you need to be cognizant of your surroundings,” Bainbridge Public Safety Major Robert Humphrey said. “Be in lighted areas. Take a friend shopping with you.”
Shopping during daylight hours whenever possible is an excellent way to keep safe and feel more comfortable carrying around money, bags and gifts. With a friend or a family member nearby, thieves will have a more difficult time approaching or getting away without drawing too much attention.
Humphrey said one thing that draws attention to thieves are shoppers carrying large bags and purses.
“When you do go shopping, don’t take big purses or bags,” Humphrey said. “Carry any credit cards, cash, everything in your pocket if you can.”
Some thieves even go so far as to cut the straps off of bigger bags as they walk by a shopper.
“We’ve had people walk by and cut the straps off then run off with the purse, knocking people down and hurting people,” he said.
If women do carry purses, they shouldn’t sling them over just one shoulder. Rather, they should carry them cross-body style to keep them more secure.
Once gifts are purchased, immediately lock them in the trunk or somewhere out of sight. Thieves often look through windows of cars to see if there is anything inside worth taking.
It isn’t just car windows thieves are looking through. House windows can also clearly show any gifts or other valuable objects inside, especially with most people displaying their Christmas trees by windows.
“A lot of people want to have their windows up with their Christmas tree lights shining,” Humphrey said. “But do anything to keep things out of sight. We just had a case the other day where someone stole all the Christmas presents from a house.”
It’s easy to become careless and vulnerable with so much to do during the holidays, but thinking clearly and practicing good safety will make things easier for shoppers and harder for criminals.
“It’s that time of the season where people are stealing stuff left and right,” Humphrey said. “Keep everything locked down and make sure you lock your car every time you get out of it.”

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