VPD offers safety tips during holidays

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A lot of folks are running around this week and next finishing up their Christmas shopping, but in the hustle and bustle of wrapping up choosing those gifts, the Vicksburg Police Department reminds shoppers to be mindful of their surroundings.

VPD Chief Milton Moore encourages residents to exercise precaution.

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“Nothing ruins the holiday season faster than becoming a victim of crime,” Milton said. “Please take a moment to double check your homes and automobiles to make sure they are secure.”

Moore said the holiday season should be a time of joy, but unfortunately, burglars view this time of year a little differently.

“Burglars consider the holiday season as an opportunity to burglarize your homes for cash, credit cards and gifts,” Moore said.

He suggests some tips to help residents protect themselves and their belongings.

4Be mindful about leaving your doors and windows unsecured, even for a few minutes.

4Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

— Knowing who and what is around you will help you avoid being caught unaware. It also allows you time to react if something does appear suspicious.

4 Display confidence

— Criminals choose victims who appear to be an easy target.

4Trust your instincts

— If your intuition has you feeling something is wrong or suspicious, react immediately and take action to reduce your risk of becoming a victim

4Carry only what you need

— Extra cash, credit cards, checks, jewelry and other items should be left at home, not in your vehicle.

— Keep your purse in front and close to your body. Men should keep their wallets in their front pocket.)

4Don’t be overburdened with packages

— Carrying several shopping bags makes you look vulnerable.

— If a store cannot hold your merchandise until you finish shopping, place all purchases in the trunk of your car

4Shop with others or as a group

— The chance of being victimized drops dramatically when you are accompanied by others

4Plan ahead

— Have your keys in hand when walking to your vehicle and use the alarm or alert button to signal if something is wrong

4Don’t advertise

— Burglars look for occupancy cues

— Outdoor lights burning 24 hours a day, piled up newspapers, mail, or advertising flyers hanging on the door knob.

4Do not leave descriptive telephone answering machine

— Messages like, “Sorry we’re away skiing for the Christmas holidays … please leave a message.”

4Do not post on Facebook that you are away!

— Criminals love to hear that your home is empty.  This allows plenty of time to break in and completely ransack your home.

4After Christmas avoid discarding boxes for expensive items such as new computers, games systems, or stereo receivers on the street for the garbage man.

— Burglars notice that expensive gifts are inside the home for them to steal

— Break the boxes down or cut them up to conceal the items better

4Keep your car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car.

4Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.

4Call 911 immediately if you feel threatened or if you are victimized.

Moore also suggests merchants use caution during this time of year when businesses are extending their holiday hours by opening earlier or staying open later.

“If an employee feels uncomfortable opening, closing or walking to their vehicle, contact the Vicksburg Police Department,” Moore said. “The safety of the citizens of Vicksburg is our utmost importance. We want the holiday season to be a safe experience for everyone.”

He added the VPD will be working additional hours due to increased traffic to accommodate extended retail hours and to deter criminal activity.