SAVANNAH, GA (November 21, 2011): The holiday season is also a time for caution: many people are moving quickly with valuable purchases and lots of cash, school is out and young people have a lot of time on their hands, and thieves want a piece of the pie.
The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department has increased patrols and efforts to help keep you safe and your belongings secure. Officers also offer these tips to help you keep yourself safe as well:
Limit the amount of cash you carry. Try to use debit or credit cards when possible and be sure to care for them as you would cash. Keep your account numbers and customer service telephone numbers for each card in a handy place so you can call to cancel the card should it be misplaced or stolen.
- Shop with someone else. The more the better.
- Take care to 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-lighted area.
- Always store all valuables out of sight. Thieves don’t mind breaking your $1,200 window to get a handful of coins. Put all items in the trunk or in areas where they won’t be seen by passers-by.
- Lock your car. Jerking on door handles is easy and once they open, thieves will rummage through the car to see what’s there. At the same time, make sure windows are up.
- In the haste to get bargains, avoid quickly throwing packages in the back seat and running back into the store.
- 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 also can be used as a defensive weapon if necessary.)
- Look around the car to assure that no one is lurking around the car and make sure no one is in it before entering.
- Consolidate smaller purchases into one or two large shopping bags. Never leave purchases unattended.
Women should hold purses close to their body with the opening facing them. When walking with someone else, keep the purse between you.
- Avoid purses hanging from straps around your neck. A purse snatcher can harm you grabbing it.
- 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 all 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.
- Point out security guards or store offices so your child knows where to go if they do become separated.
- When waiting in line, give your child a book or snack to keep them occupied so you can concentrate on what you are doing and keeping everyone safe.
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.
- If your house will be vacant, consider turning off the tree lights. (This also serves as a fire safety reminder.)
- Remember, those fancy boxes stacked in your trash area or yards are billboards to thieves who then know what items are in the house. Even tearing them to pieces and depositing them in your home recycling bins isn’t enough. Thieves are smart enough to look in them. Consider taking them away from your home to get rid of them or store them someplace out of sight for a week or two before discarding. Or, take them to a city pickup center listed here:
. Bacon Park Transfer Station
6400 Skidaway Rd
Dean Forest Landfill
1327 Dean Forest Rd
Recycling Complex and Education Center
14 Interchange Court
Wilmington Island Recycling Center
6900 Concord Rd
Resource Conservation Education Center
1321 Eisenhower Dr.
* Particularly for woman living alone, consider backing into your garage. This allows you to see if anyone has walked in behind you before you exit the automobile.
AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINES
- Try to withdraw money only in daylight hours when people are around.
- Limit afterhours ATM use to those in well-lighted, public areas.
- Try to take someone with you.
- Look around and make sure no one is loitering nearby or looks 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.
- Place your other hand over the machine when entering your personal code to assure no one can see it, including an illegitimate scanner that might have been placed nearby.
This is a favorite time to travel to renew family traditions and old friendships. Keep in mind your greatest investments could be left vulnerable at home.
- 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.
- Make sure your alarm is working and is set.
- Call the Crime Prevention Officer in your precinct to 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
West Chatham Precinct APO. Diane Williams (912) 652-6560
Downtown Precinct Off. Samantha Stephens (912) 651-6990
` Central Precinct S.Cpl. Willet Williams (912) 651-6931
Southside Precinct Cpl. John Simmons (912) 351-3400
Islands Precinct Off. Robert Martier (912) 898-3252
- Awareness is your best protection. Be alert to what is going on around you at all times and use common sense.
- Call police immediately if you see anything suspicious. Don’t debate calling first. 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.
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