LAKEVIEW — Still stocking up on holiday gifts? Be careful — more packages and more shopping also means the potential for more theft, Town Hall District police said.
"Everyone could use extra money around the holidays," a safety notice from the district said. "Criminals thrive on unsuspecting and innocent victims."
The district released personal safety tips so that residents and visitors can minimize burglary and theft this holiday season.
For one, all those holiday packages shouldn't be delivered to an empty house, police recommend. Criminals will watch when delivery trucks drop off goods on doorsteps — including when homeowners instructs the postman to put the package behind the house, community policing Sgt. Jason Clark said in past meetings.
It makes for easy pickings.
Instead, make sure somebody is home to accept the package or consider delivering packages to centers that will hold the goods. UPS, for example, will hold packages at UPS Customer Centers for five days.
If you're shopping local — and hey, there are great options for that — police have tips for you, too.
Carry your purse close to your body, with the clasp facing in. Don't give thieves easy access by setting purses down on counters or in shopping carts. Even then, keep car or house keys in your pocket, in case the purse is taken.
Bring a friend with you. "There is safety in numbers!" police wrote in a flyer.
But if you're by yourself, don't talk on your phone or listen to music during shopping, police said. Many victims in the neighborhood are distracted by their headphones or phones. iPhones are stolen more than any other item, police said.
The best idea is to stay alert.
And once you're back to your car, have your keys ready, and put any valuables in the trunk before driving off so that items are not visible when you reach your destination, police said.
Local cops have stressed prevention in hopes of reducing crimes of opportunity. Flyers with tips have been posted across the neighborhood, and community policing officers have continued to emphasize the need to lock doors and to stay alert.
Police have credited such efforts for the declines in burglaries in the neighborhood.