SAVANNAH, GA (November 20, 2019) – The holidays are approaching, and unfortunately that sometimes correlates to an increase in property and financial crimes. The Savannah Police Department wants you to have the merriest of holidays, free of hassle, and asks you to please take note of the tips to help keep you safe.
Officers will be increasing patrols in neighborhoods this holiday season to help reduce the number of crimes. In addition, each holiday season the Savannah Police Department has “Jingle Bell Patrol,” a concentrated, high visibility patrol effort in shopping areas throughout the city to assist in crime reduction.
With all these efforts, officers still need the public’s help. Please contact police immediately if you see any unusual activity in shopping centers, your neighborhood or anywhere throughout the city.
• Limit the amount of cash you carry. Try to use debit or credit cards. If the card becomes stolen or lost, contact your credit card company immediately to cancel the card.
• Keep your cell phone in a pocket rather than your purse. If the purse disappears, you will be able to call for help.
• Shop with someone else. The more the better.
• Be aware of your surroundings. Shopping is an exciting time and thieves can prey on those who are not paying attention.
• Park in a well-lit area.
• In the haste to get bargains, avoid quickly throwing packages in the back seat and running back into the store. If you have to make a run to the car, hide the purchases in the trunk or another secure area and consider re-parking. If someone sees you make a run to your car with packages, they usually know you won’t be back for a while.
• Consider making your most expensive purchases last so you can head straight home with them.
• Have your keys ready when you approach your car. (Your keys can be used as a defensive weapon if necessary.)
• Look around the car to assure that no one is lurking around or in the car before entering.
• Consolidate smaller purchases into one or two large shopping bags. Never leave purchases unattended.
• Make sure the site is secure. Browsers will say SECURE or have a lock icon on secure sites or will have https instead of http in the address. (The “s” stands for secure)
• Only use well-known, trusted sites for online purchases.
• Keep an eye on your online banking and credit card statements to ensure your card information hasn’t been stolen.
• Never use public WIFI. You have an increased risk of cyber criminals getting your information this way.
• Use credit instead of debit. Credit cards give you some protection that banks do not. If there’s a problem, you have the right to dispute a purchase through your credit card company.
• Women should hold purses close to their body with the opening closed or zipped shut. When walking with someone else, keep the purse between you.
• Keep your mobile phone in a pocket rather than the purse.
• Never leave your purse in the shopping cart, even if you are close by.
• Men should consider keeping their wallets in their front pocket rather than hip pockets or jackets.
• Shopping carts are top-heavy. Make sure children are in the seats and not riding in the basket itself.
• Remove your child’s coat or sweater once indoors. Overheated children can become difficult and distracting.
• Keep your children with you at all times, not allowing them to wander on their own. (They can move quickly.) If possible, try to shop with another adult to help watch your children.
• Take a photo of your child before shopping. If they become lost, you will have a current photo of them in the clothes they are wearing that can aid in more quickly finding them.
• Point out security guards or store offices so your children know where to go if they do become separated.
- Always store valuables out of sight. Make sure your purchases and valuables are safely hidden in the trunk or another hidden area. Remove all valuables from your vehicle each night.
- Take all keys. If thieves find a spare key, the vehicle probably will be taken.
- Never leave firearms in a vehicle!
• Lock your car and make sure windows are up. Thieves will often check on car door handles looking for an easy target.
- Never leave your vehicle running while unattended. This includes turning it on to “warm up” in your driveway or leaving it running to go into a store “for just a second.” It only takes a second to steal a vehicle.
AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINES
• Try to withdraw money only in daylight hours when people are around.
• Limit afterhours ATM use to those in well-lit, public areas.
• Look at the ATM to assure that no extraneous equipment has been attached that may scan your card.
• Look around and make sure no one is loitering nearby or acts suspiciously. If they do, walk away quickly. If they arrive after you have begun your transaction, cancel it and return later.
• Have your card in hand, conduct your transaction and walk away quickly. You can count the money later in a safe place.
• Never leave your receipt in the machine.
- Never have packages delivered to your home when you are away. Either have them re-routed to an alternate address, pick them up at the carrier office or ask a neighbor to pick them up for you. Those big boxes are a clear sign that no one is home and your purchases have been left unattended. Some thieves will follow delivery trucks to see where they make stops at.
- Use tracking services with your shipping provider to see where your package is and when it has been delivered.
Your home is enticing to would-be thieves and the lights of the tree remind them that goodies probably are available under them.
• If you have a burglar alarm, use it, even if you only intend to be away for a few moments.
• Remember, after Christmas those fancy boxes stacked in your trash area or yards are billboards to thieves who now know what items are in the house.
• If you plan to leave to go out of town for the holidays, ask one or more neighbors to keep an eye on your house, alerting them on who might be there legitimately. If your area has a neighborhood watch, by all means, request its help. Make sure they know how to contact you.
• Call the Crime Prevention Officer in your precinct and alert officers on patrol that you will be away so they can pay extra attention to your house. Make sure they know how to contact you.
Crime Prevention Officers
Northwest Precinct: Cpl. William Barnett, (912) 525-3100 ext. 2713, firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Precinct: Cpl. Barry Lewis, (912) 525-3114, email@example.com
Southside Precinct: Officer Samantha Heard, (912) 351-3400 x1794, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastside Precinct: Cpl. Sharif Lockett, (912) 525-3100 ext. 3008, email@example.com
COMMERCIAL BUSINESS SAFETY
- Keep front doors and windows clear of signs, posters and landscaping to allow for better visibility. Ensure businesses are well lit.
- Install video surveillance, familiarize yourself with how it is used and make sure it is set to the correct date and time. Use cameras or mirrors to avoid blind spots.
- Post signs stating there is limited cash on hand and keep cashier area locked. Make bank deposits as often as possible, but never less than once a day.
- Place markers at the door that help gauge a person’s height.
• Awareness is your best protection. Be alert to what is going on around you at all times and use common sense.
• Don’t think twice about calling police if you see anything suspicious. Do it! You could be preventing immediate and future crimes.
• If you are a victim of a crime, try to remain as calm as possible, remembering every detail you can. Look for something obvious about the suspect, then assess their height in comparison to yours, hair color, facial hair, scars, eye glasses, direction of travel and method of travel. (Automobile description, color, make, tag, if possible.) Also, note clothing colors and styles, especially shoes, since shirts can be changed easily.