The holidays are a special time of the year, but they are also a time when busy people become careless, making individuals and property more vulnerable to theft and other crimes. Here are some tips to remember from the Berlin Police Department:
· Automobile burglary is one of the most common crimes committed in Berlin. This a crime of opportunity and the victim often unwittingly provides the opportunity.
· Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. If possible, park your car in an area of high pedestrian activity. Avoid remote areas.
· Lock your car and close the windows, even if you are only gone for a few minutes.
· Loose change is enough of a temptation to some that a thief will break your window for small change that is in plain view.
· Your cell phone can be sold and reprogrammed and is a sought after item of theft.
· A laptop computer will fetch a high price for a thief, at your expense
· Lock your packages and valuables out of sight in the trunk or stash under seats as soon as you leave the store and before you get to your destination, not after— a thief may be watching.
· Be sure to lock your car; many opportunists simply try doors hoping for unlocked cars.
· If waiting for a ride from a friend or public transportation, do so in busy, well-lit places.
· Consider security film for automobile windows.
· Always report a theft to the police.
· Teach your children to go to the store clerk and ask for help if you become separated while shopping. They should never leave the store or mall to go to the parking lot or the car alone.
· Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible and, if the credit card receipt has carbons, ask for these too. Notify issuers immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused. Consider carrying credit cards with low dollar limits to limit the damage if they are stolen.
· Be extra careful with purses and wallets. They may become targets for crime in crowded shopping areas, at bus stops, and on public transportation.
· Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
· At home, be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes. Leave lights and a radio or television on so the house looks occupied. Do not put large displays of holiday gifts in view of your windows or doors.
· If you go away for the holidays, try to keep your home appearing “lived in”: Get an automatic timer for your lights. Have a neighbor watch your home and pick up your newspapers and mail.
· If you use lights on your tree, make sure that they are in good working order.
· Immediately mark your new gifts with your driver’s license number, and note all serial numbers, keeping records in a safe place.
· Remember to be a good friend and neighbor this holiday season: Share these tips with others in your family and neighborhood. Also, why not get your neighborhood together and go caroling? Do not forget the elderly and other people who might be especially lonely during the holidays. Soon, you may wish to form a neighborhood watch group. People helping people, that’s what it is all about!
· And lastly, when hosting a party, find alternative transportation for intoxicated guests; and when going out drinking, please remember: Don’t Drink and Drive.
For more information, contact the Berlin Police Department at 410-641-1334.