For our very first post on the Spencer Police Department Facebook page, and in the spirit of the holidays, we would like to extend some helpful advice for this holiday season.
Christmas is fast approaching and without fail, law enforcement agencies all across the nation see an increase in criminal activity. Even in Spencer, we have recently seen a slight increase in vehicle break ins; although most of these incidents have been due to unlocked vehicles. Typically criminals will choose a target that makes it easy for them.
To help avoid being a victim of a crime this holiday season, here are a few pieces of advice:
Shop with a friend; groups of two or more people discourage potential criminals. There is truth in the old adage of safety in numbers. When shopping in stores, do not leave valuables in your vehicle (especially in plain sight). When out in large holiday crowds, always be aware of your surroundings. Not only does an alert person make a harder target for criminals, but being alert will also help avoid accidents.
If you decide to avoid the holiday crowds and make online purchases, you still need to be safe to avoid being the victim of a crime. As often as you can, try to purchase products from retailers and sites that you trust. Be cautious about giving out too much information. If a site seems suspicious, try to find that perfect gift from another retailer. It is also always a good idea to review your credit card and bank statements for fraudulent activity.
If you order items online, over the phone, or by mail, you can follow these steps to ensure that your gifts aren't stolen. When packages arrive at your home, try to retrieve them as soon as possible. Packages left on porches are easy targets for thieves. If you will be unable to get your package for an extended period of time, have a trusted friend or neighbor put it in a safe place for you.
If you are going out of town, don't allow yourself to fall victim of a crime while you are away. Making your house look like it's occupied is a good way to deter criminals. You can place a hold on your mail and newspaper so that they don't get stacked up, as this is a clear sign that a house is unoccupied. When leaving, let a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor know so that they may keep a check on things for you. Many police departments (Spencer included) offer house check programs. Departments that have this program allow you to contact them and they will keep a check on your house while you are away. Be cautious about who you let know that you will be out of town. If you don't trust them, then you shouldn't tell them your house will be unoccupied. It is also a bad idea to post to Facebook or other websites that you will be out of town.
Make sure that you keep your houses and cars locked. Believe it or not, most "break ins" are not really break ins. Many criminals choose unlocked houses and unlocked cars to break into because these are easier targets and draw less attention than breaking a window or picking a lock. Please lock your doors. Even in relatively small communities with little to no crime, criminals will steal from unlocked houses and cars.
Be on the lookout for anything you think looks suspicious as well. Criminals are always coming up with new ways to commit crimes. If you see anything out of place, let the police know. You may be tipping us off to the next crime trend.
We hope that everyone has a safe and great holiday season this year! Happy Holidays from The Spencer Police Department!