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Crime During the Holidays

By: Brigitta Ellwein, Victim Services Coordinator, King County

        The holiday season is here and almost everyone likes to celebrate by getting into the holiday spirit.  That often entails shopping, having family gatherings, and going to community events to see lights and maybe get a glimpse of Santa himself.  When you are having so much fun being merry, the last thing you want to think about is how safe your merchandise is, where is the safest place to park is, or even more concerning, how safe you are during the holiday dash. 

         While the crime rate surprisingly does not increase during the holiday season, certain crime types do tend to spike (Lauritsen & White, 2014).  This should not hamper your fun of celebrating the season but being vigilant, aware, and following a few tips can make this holiday season less of a concern and more of a jolly experience.

        When shopping for that perfect holiday gift, make it a social affair and shop with a companion.  Be aware that commercial areas, such as malls, are targets for theft.  Let your children know to go to a police officer or store security person if they get separated from you.  While you might want to buy a heck of a lot of egg nog, try not to carry a lot of cash at one time.  Keep your purse close to you and held securely.  Be cautious when going back to your sleigh while carrying multiple items.  You can even ask for a security escort to your vehicle to feel more comfortable.  Don’t leave items visible in your vehicle and keep an eye out for anyone that seems to be following you.  Park in a well-lit area and be sure to lock your doors.

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        There are similar tips for holiday safety and fun at home; try not to place packages in front of windows where someone walking by might see all the holiday cheer inside.  If you aren’t home, you can get an automatic timer for your lights and ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things.  While it is the season for giving, be wary of those that come to your door asking for donations and personal information.  Ask anyone who approaches you for a cause to show you identification and to give information on where your donation will go and how it will be used.  If anyone makes you feel like they are not bringing good tidings, know that you can always say no thank you and shut the door.  Also be alert to packages left on your doorstep by the mail carrier as many find the temptation to open gifts early, gifts that aren’t theirs, too much to bear (Holiday safety tips, 2016).

        After the holidays have passed and you have finished cleaning up the confetti, continue to be diligent in your safety steps.  Keep a close eye on your bills and bank statements.  Be sure to report any suspicious activity or charges.  Don’t ever give your personal information such as Social Security number or PIN number; no retailer or website should need that information.  If you make any returns, be sure to photograph the item’s serial numbers and condition for proof of your purchase and its condition (Holiday safety tips, 2013).

        While safety concerns area a very real part of the season, they don’t have to ruin your hot cocoa fun.  Be alert and cautious, keep warm by the fire, and remember these safety tips.  Have a merry holiday season from all of us here at Victim Support Services!

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References

Holiday safety tips. (2016, November 16). Retrieved from         http://www.seattle.gov/police/prevention/seasonal/holiday.htm

Holiday safety tips. (2013, September). Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Reg%201- Advocate/Downloads/holiday-safety-tips.pdf

Lauritsen, Janet L., Ph.D., & White, Nicole, Ph.D. (2014, June 17). Seasonal patterns in criminal victimization trends. NCJ 245959.