for thieves, it's most wonderful time of the year
This holiday season, don't let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers or pickpockets a chance to do their dirty work. Keep these safety tips in mind.
At home: Lock all the doors and windows while you're out, even if you'll be gone for just a few minutes. Don't place packages or gifts near windows or in other high-visibility spots. If traveling, have a trusted neighbor watch you home, pick up the newspaper, collect the mail and park in your driveway from time to time. And to avoid fire hazards, don't leave your holiday lights on unattended and check your smoke alarms.
Out and about: Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Don't overburden yourself with packages. Take extra care with purses and wallets. Ladies, carry your purse close to your body. Gentlemen, keep your wallet in an inside coat pocket, front pants pocket or a zippered pocket. Don't leave your purse or wallet in your vehicle. Never leave your purse unattended in a shopping cart or on a countertop. Don't carry large amounts of cash. Bring just one debit or credit card and avoid leaving it out where others can read it. Park as closely as possible to your destination. Place your packages out of sight in your locked trunk. If shopping with young children, make sure they know what to do if they become separated from you inside a store or mall.
Shopping online: Conduct transactions on a secure server. Use only one credit card when ordering online. This will limit problems if your card is compromised. Have packages delivered to an address where they won't be left unattended for long periods of time.
Donna Saxer, Pinellas Park Police Department