Sheriff: Stay safe this holiday season

The holiday season is filled with shopping, parties, and gatherings with loved ones. It’s a season of joy, but it’s also a time when you can be at greater risk for dangers such as theft and break-ins because you’re busy and may let your guard down.

Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter encourages residents to take a moment to think about safety before the season gets underway. “By being aware and thinking about safety, you can help ensure this holiday season is filled only with good memories,” he said. “Being alert and cautious will help keep you out of harm’s way.”

Online shopping continues to increase in popularity. Unfortunately, it can leave you vulnerable to theft.

Sheriff Kleinhelter advises:

-Log onto a retailer’s website if you want to shop. Avoid clicking through an email link that offers an enticing deal. Scammers sometimes create fake emails that appear to be from a legitimate store in an attempt to gain access to your personal information.

-Use a credit card, not a debit card when shopping online. There is more consumer protection for credit card purchases. A third-party payment service, such as PayPal or Google Pay, is another safe option.

-Use secure Wi-Fi when you shop. Never make purchases over public Wi-Fi.

-Have packages delivered to your work location or a relative or friend’s house where someone will be home. Packages left unattended are an invitation to thieves.

When you drive to a mall or other location, keep these tips in mind:

-Avoid driving alone at night; take a friend along.

-Park in a well-lit area close to your destination.

-Be sure to have keys in hand before you approach your vehicle.

-Be alert and aware of your surroundings.

-Place packages out of sight in the trunk of your vehicle.

-Beware of strangers approaching you during the holidays. This is a prime time for con artists to distract you with the intent of stealing your purse, wallet, or purchases.

Kleinhelter said residents should also practice good home safety this time of year. He advises:

-Be extra careful about locking doors and windows every time you leave the house.

-If you’ll be out of town for a while, have a neighbor check your property and retrieve any mail.

-Place indoor and outdoor lights on automatic timers.

-Make sure that large displays of holiday gifts aren’t visible from outside your home.

-Be aware that criminals sometimes pose as delivery drivers to gain access to your home. Never let a delivery driver inside.

-Know that con artists sometimes claim to represent charitable organizations in an attempt to steal cash. Ask for identification and if you’re not comfortable, do not donate.

 “We all look forward to holiday traditions, finding the perfect gifts for loved ones and enjoying all the season has to offer,” said Sheriff Kleinhelter. “My greatest wish is that everyone enjoys this season safely.”