Crime

Holiday safety tips: Lock your cars when shopping; be aware of surroundings

Safety tip: Keep credit cards, money in your pocket. Don’t wear flashy jewelry. If you can, avoid debit cards. Please don’t walk with the cash in your hands at any time.
Safety tip: Keep credit cards, money in your pocket. Don’t wear flashy jewelry. If you can, avoid debit cards. Please don’t walk with the cash in your hands at any time. Miami Herald File

This week, let’s refresh some of the tips from the past that are still extremely important in staying safe for the holiday season:

▪ When shopping, lock your vehicle, set the alarm and park as close to the store as possible. And park in a well-lighted spot.

▪ Be aware of your surroundings.

▪ Criminals come in all ages, from 10 to 80 years old.

▪ Don’t have a conversation with strangers in the parking lot — they may be setting you up to commit a crime against you.

▪ Shop light: Keep credit cards, money in your pocket. Don’t wear flashy jewelry. If you can, avoid debit cards. Please don’t walk with the cash in your hands at any time.

▪ Don’t shop in one store, place everything in your car and then continue shopping. Criminals sit in the parking lot and watch for people who practice this. They will walk around the parking lot looking for vehicles with bags inside of them and, yes, they can open your trunk in seconds. If you have a lot of bags, drop them off at your house and return to the stores.

▪ We have seen an increase in phone and tablet theft. As you use them, thieves will run by and snatch them. Be aware of your surrounding when you are on your phone or iPad.

Another issue brought to my attention this past week: People walking the neighborhood checking out to see if there are gifts under the tree. Please don’t place your tree near a window, and if you do, don’t place gifts under there until it gets closer to Christmas.

Also, people will knock on doors asking for donations for the “children.” Most of these people are just trying to get into your home. Please remind the seniors in your house not to open the door for anyone.

No matter how joyous this time of the year is, there are criminals who will try to damper that “joy” by stealing whatever they can. For those of you who have live-in housekeepers, please speak to them about these issues.

Another scam

Got this from a reader:

“We got a call from someone who said he was from FPL. He said we were due for disconnection within the next 30 minutes unless we made a payment by phone. We replied we had paid on time. He claimed there had been a glitch in the system and that some recent payments were automatically returned to the bank accounts and not processed. There was a technician in the area disconnecting past due accounts and there would be a reconnection charge and wait time. My husband smelled a rat and contacted FPL on another line. He was told this scam had been reported recently.”

Folks this scam comes around every year during the holidays. It’s not only FPL, but also the water department and other agencies.

Next week, we will discuss “safety when traveling.”

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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