Recently, I gave you some shopping safety tips for the holidays. Here are some additional pointers sent to me by Sgt. Robert Fortich of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit:
▪ Lock your vehicle, set its alarm and park as close to the store as possible in a well-lit spot.
▪ Be aware of your surroundings.
▪ Criminals come in all ages, from 10 to 80 years old.
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▪ Don’t have a conversation with strangers in the parking lot; they may be setting you up to commit a crime against you.
▪ Criminals will pick your pocket or slice your purse strap to get your wallet. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.
▪ Shop light. It’s safest to keep your credit cards and money in your pocket. If you can, avoid debit cards. Don’t wear flashy jewelry. Don’t walk with cash in your hands at any time.
▪ DON’T shop in one store, take your purchases out to your car, and then continue shopping. Criminals sit in the parking lot to watch for people who do this. They will walk around the parking lot looking for vehicle with bags inside — and yes, they can open your trunk in seconds. If you have a lot of bags, take them home and then return to the stores.
▪ We have seen an increase in phone and iPad thefts. Robbers who see you using your phone or iPad will run by and snatch them from you. Be aware of your surroundings when you use your phone or iPad.
Another issue brought to my attention this past week was people walking the neighborhood checking out to see whether there are gifts under the tree. Please don’t place your tree near a window — and if you do, don’t place gifts under it until closer to Christmas. There will be people knocking on doors asking for donations for “the children.” Most of these people are just trying to get into your home, so please remind the seniors in your house not to open the door for anyone.
No matter how joyous this time of the year is to us, there are the criminals who will try to dampen that joy by stealing whatever they can. For those of you with housekeepers, please speak to them about these issues.
And if you plan to travel, please contact your local police and have them place a watch order on your house.
Well, the FPL scam is going around again. I got this from Shirley, a reader:
“I was called on Friday from a No Caller ID, which I don't normally answer. Someone said they were from FPL and that my electricity would be turned off if I didn't pay a $32.90 past-due amount on my last bill. They ask me for my charge card number. I'm never late paying. She said I must go to the Boca Raton office and make a payment. I knew it was a scam. Thanks.”
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.