|Holiday Safety Tips|
This article appeared in the NCCC newsletter, dated November 2003.
The holiday season is upon us. Although it is a joyful time of year, it is also an opportune time for criminals that would prey upon you. The Chapel Hill Police Department has been gracious enough to extend the following few safety messages for this holiday season:
1) Criminals are always active, no matter which neighborhood you reside in. Some homeowners leave their blinds and curtains open so that passersby can view their Christmas trees. If your window is low, or in an area in which a criminal can easily see in, you may be inviting trouble. Anything that can be seen is something that can be stolen. Open blinds and curtains can also signal that you are not home, inviting a break-in.
2) Regardless of whether you keep your tree in plain view, do not store your gifts under the tree. If you want to maintain the look of presents under the tree, wrap a few small boxes with nothing inside.
3) Holiday time is scam time. With your busy schedule, scammers know they can pull the wool over your eyes much more easily. Don't be caught off-guard. How do you know if the other person on the phone is a scammer? First, did you initiate the call? Anyone calling you and asking for any personal information is suspicious. Does the person claim to be verifying your account information? If the caller is calling from the company, he/she should already have any information you have already provided. Never, under any circumstances, give out any personal information to someone who calls you or comes to your door.
4) What do you do when you leave the house? It may seem obvious, but lock all of your doors and windows. Surprisingly, many people do not lock up their homes. You wouldn't let anyone have easy access to your purse or wallet. Why let someone have easy access to your home?
5) When shopping, park in well-lit areas, preferably close to the door. Do not store items in your car. If you need to, place them in the trunk. Does your trunk have a lock-out button or switch to prevent your trunk from being opened without a key? Use it! It’s sometimes called a valet switch.
6) Don't become so overburdened with shopping bags that you look like an easy target. Travel lightly, and walk with confidence. Make eye contact with passersby, smile and say 'Hello.' You'll make yourself look less attractive as a victim.
7) Do you feel uncomfortable leaving the store? Don't feel embarrassed to ask a security guard for an escort. As an alternative, shop in groups. Two people are a less attractive target than one person.
Following the suggestions above should reduce your chances of being victimized this holiday season. Thanks go to Sergeant Chris Blue for allowing us to print this information.
"Falling home prices, elevated energy prices, and strains in financial markets will continue to pose significant challenges to the economy," Hooper said.