Holiday safety tips

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, shopping, caroling…and crime.

Don’t let it take a bite out of your festivities. Be aware of your surroundings and take simple precautions as suggested by Fairfield County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Forrest Cassel.

“During the holidays, we increase our patrols in the retail districts, parking lots, and residential areas,” said Cassel. “For the months of November and December, the most prevalent calls are thefts, vehicle break-ins, and vehicle accidents. Vehicle break-ins can occur at any time of day, but are more prevalent at night. If you leave property in the vehicle, which can be seen, the chances of being broken into increase greatly, no matter what the time.”

While shopping, Cassel offers the following advice: when parking your vehicle, remember where you parked it and always park in a well-lit and well-traveled area. Do not park in a remote dark area.

When you return to your vehicle, scan the interior of your car to be sure no one is hiding inside and look around to see if you are being followed. Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle so you will not be delayed by fumbling and looking for keys.

When storing items purchased at a store, place them out of sight. The best place is in a locked trunk and do not leave your purse, wallet or cellular telephone in plain view.
If you go to an ATM for cash, check around for suspicious individuals and

make sure the area is well lit and in a safe location. Carry only the credit cards you need and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

The holiday season also heralds the start of winter weather, poor driving conditions and motorists rushing from one place to another.

“The majority of crashes occur on and around Gender Road and U.S. 33,” said Cassel, “because people are not paying attention, speeding and are impatient while driving. To avoid crashes drivers should slow down, pay attention to their surroundings, leave phones in the glove box, abide by all traffic signals and signs, and leave appropriate space for stopping distance.”

Drive defensively. Traffic is heavier during the holidays and drivers may also have indulged in too much holiday spirits

The day after opening presents, do not pile up empty gift boxes from a new computer, DVD player, large screen television or other high-ticket items on the street for trash pick-up. Burglars appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside for them to steal. Break the boxes down or cut them up to conceal information about items inside the house.

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