Crimes such as robberies, burglaries, and thefts typically increase during the holiday season. With holiday travel, shopping and preparations more people are out and about and they tend to be carrying more money and valuables than during other times of the year. It’s important to be mindful of safety during these busy times and to take the steps we can to make ourselves less vulnerable to crime.
We have compiled holiday safety tips to assist students, faculty and staff in safeguarding their property and keeping themselves safe, whether traveling or remaining on campus throughout the recess period. Please consider these safety tips to use:
For Your Room, Office and Home When You’re Away:
- Be sure all of your windows and doors are locked before you leave.
- Valuables and displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors.
- When possible, take valuables with you, or lock them up.
- Give your home an occupied appearance by leaving the lights on or using an automatic timer to turn inside and outside lights on and off.
- Ask a trusted neighbor to watch your house or apartment and to park in your driveway or parking space from time to time.
- Stop your mail and newspaper deliveries.
- Arrange to have snow shoveled (if necessary) while you are gone.
While Driving and in Parking Areas:
- Contact people at your destination and let them know when you are leaving and when you expect to arrive.
- If your car breaks down, stay with the car and accept no rides. If someone stops to help, ask him or her to call the police. Use your own cell phone if signal range allows.
- Never leave your vehicle running while unattended.
- Fuel your vehicle during daylight hours when possible and maintain at least ½ tank of gas.
- Never leave valuables on the seat of your vehicle in plain view as this creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in your vehicle, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
- Always lock your vehicle and keep the windows closed even if you are only going to be gone for a few minutes.
- Park in a highly visible well-lit space. It may be daylight when you arrive at your location, but dark when you come out.
- Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows where people can hide.
- Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked. You don’t want to spend unnecessary time walking around the parking lot.
- When returning to your vehicle, carry your keys in your hand and be ready to unlock the door and enter as quickly as possible.
- Avoid texting or talking on the phone while walking so that you can see where you’re going and who is around you.
- Know your surroundings. Look around the parking lot and your vehicle for suspicious people. If you notice odd behavior, inform security or the police immediately.
- Look into your vehicle’s windows and under the body before entering to ensure no one is waiting for you.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
- When you get in your vehicle, lock the doors and start the engine immediately.
- Use the “panic” or “alarm” button on your key chain if you feel fearful or suspicious.
At the ATM:
- If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a bank, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings when you use an ATM.
- If you notice anything unusual, cancel your transaction, pocket your card and leave immediately. Go to a safe place and call police.
- Have everything ready (deposit slips, card) when you arrive at the ATM. When you have completed your transaction, pocket your cash and card immediately.
- When using a drive-up ATM keep the car running, your car doors locked and all windows except for the driver’s side window rolled up.
- Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.
- Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.
- Treat your ATM card like cash and guard it carefully. Never write your pin number on the card or give account numbers or card information over the phone, unless you know exactly to whom you are speaking.
While You’re Out or Shopping:
- Stay alert and be aware of everything around you. Take a minute to observe who may be watching you. Criminals often target people who are distracted.
- Don’t use short cuts through alleys or walkways; stay in well-lit and well-traveled areas.
- When possible shop with friends or relatives – there is safety in numbers.
- As you shop, be alert in crowded places. Among pickpockets’ favorites are jammed aisles, elevators, and public transportation stops, especially at rush hour.
- If you must take a wallet or purse, carry it close to your body with the clasp nearest you and be alert. They are prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit. Never leave your wallet or purse unattended in a shopping cart or on a counter.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash – use debit card, credit card or check.
- Cash should be carried in a front pocket. Do not display large sums of cash.
- Make a list of all your credit/debit cards and their numbers and keep this list at home. This will assist you and the police if they are stolen. Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.
- Be alert for suspicious persons loitering in parking lots.
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
- If you feel unsafe, ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
When There’s a Stranger at Your Door:
- Be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.
- It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes although no charity is involved.
- Ask for their identification, and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.
- Donate to a recognized charitable organization.
- Criminals sometimes work in teams – while one distracts you at the front door, another enters your residence via a back door to steal.