Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Stay safe while traveling during the holidays

 

Special to The Miami Herald

The next couple of weeks, many of you will be starting to plan for that great holiday trip. Therefore, I am going to share some do and don’ts when traveling. Some of these recommendations come from the National Crime Prevention Council and hopefully they will help you in NOT becoming a victim.

At the airport

• Stay alert and watch your bags and computer carefully at all times. Don’t let anyone but uniformed airline personnel handle or watch your bags.

• Always carry proper identification such as a driver’s license or passport.

• Keep your airline ticket and identification close to you at all times.

• Do not bring anything on board for another person unknown to you or not traveling with you, however innocent or small the package or item may appear.

• It is important that you report any unattended items or suspicious activity in the airport or aircraft to the nearest airport or airline official as well as local law enforcement.

• Ladies, carry your purse close to your body; men, place your wallet in an inside front pocket. Better yet, use a money pouch under your clothes.

• Watch out for staged mishaps, like someone bumping into you or spilling a drink. Often it’s a ploy to divert your attention from your valuables.

• Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage in case your luggage is lost or tampered with. And keep anything of value in a carry-on that stays with you.

On the road

• Become familiar with your travel route before you start your trip. Get a map and study it before you leave.

• Contact the police department of the city you are visiting, asking them about the area and what area you need to be concerned about.

• Make sure your rental car is in good operating condition. Learn how to operate all windows, door locks, and lights, as well as other equipment, before you leave the rental lot.

• Keep maps and rental agreement concealed, not lying on the seat or the dashboard. You don’t want others to know you are a traveler or it’s a rental car.

• Keep car doors locked while you are driving. Store luggage in the trunk.

• Park in well-lighted areas only, close to building entrances and walkways. Remember to lock the car when you leave and store all valuables out of sight.

• Have car keys ready when approaching your car so you don’t have to fumble through your purse, becoming distracted.

• When getting gas, please make sure you keep the passenger window closed and the car locked (if you are by yourself). Do not talk on the cell phone while pumping gas, pay attention to your surroundings, and use the pump closest to the building.

• If you are bumped by another car, think before you get out. If you are in doubt or uncomfortable, signal the other driver to follow you to a busy, well-lighted area where it’s safe to get out — such as a gas station. If you have a cell phone call the police. 911 works everywhere. Don’t get out of the car.

Have a safe week and be vigilant!

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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