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Holiday Safety

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Don’t give more than you mean to during the holidays.

This holiday season, don't let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, especially because it's an opportune time for crime.

If you are traveling…

  • Get an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch your home and collect your mail and newspaper delivery.
  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows, and don’t display gifts where they can be seen from outside.

If you are shopping…

  • Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you. Be extra careful with purses and wallets.
  • Be sure to hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk of your car.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
  • If you’re shopping with kids, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
  • Although it’s cold, NEVER leave your vehicle running while you run inside a store—even if for only a minute or two.

If a stranger comes to the door…

  • Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts, so be cautious when accepting a package.
  • It's not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there's no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you aren't satisfied, don't give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.

If you’re getting packages delivered…

  • Track deliveries online and try to bring them inside as soon as possible. If you aren’t home, ask a family member or trusted neighbor.
  • Have packages sent to your work, where it can be received by someone and not left on the front porch.
  • See if the post office can hold the package for you to pick up. The post office will allow your package to remain safe and secure for 30 days.
  • Avoid becoming an easy target for post-holiday burglars by not leaving boxes for new electronics and other items in the alley or other garbage pick-up locations for several days at a time.

After you’ve opened the gifts…

  • Break down any boxes you are throwing out, put them in garbage bags, and place them inside a trash can.
  • If you see someone suspicious casing your alleyway or looking inside garbage cans, call 911.
  • Update your home inventory! Take pictures of new items and list their serial numbers. If your home is burglarized, having a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier to file.

As you enjoy the season, remember to celebrate responsibly. Drinking and driving is a danger to everyone. Take a cab, use public transportation, or call SoberRide® (800-200-TAXI), a free cab service in DC and the surrounding area active from the middle of December through January 1.