Stay Safe: Crime Rate on the Rise During Christmas and New Year
The holidays are a time of cheer, joyfulness and good will towards men, and unfortunately also more crime. The most common crimes committed during the holidays are personal larceny and robbery, according to Dr. Janet Lauritsen, Professor of Criminology in an interview with VICE last December. However more than the details of types of crimes, the question on everyone’s mind is why during the holidays does crime rise.
Does Crime Increase Over Christmas and New Year?
During other times of the year, crime is more prevalent during weekends. Fridays and Saturdays have unusually high crime rates and nights are worse than days. Statistics show that overall retail crime rises about 30% around the holidays. People carry around more cash and credit cards and wallets become a magnet for criminals. There are a lot of factors that generate more crime during the holidays than any other time during the year.
What are the Most Common Holiday Crimes?
The most common crime committed during the holiday is theft. However, online scams, phishing emails, identity theft, and fake charities are some additional crime areas that rise between Thanksgiving and New Years. Home robberies take center stage as do retail crimes during the holidays.
Credit card theft and online scams take place most often around Black Friday and Cyber Monday when unsuspecting shoppers are focused on getting great deals instead of protecting their belongings. Retail giants plan for this and ensure customers of increased security around these days, but breaches do occur, and theft adds up.
Why Do Crimes Increase During the Holiday Seasons?
Psychologists theorize that stress and depression are two big reasons that crime spikes during the holiday season. Another factor is the increased amount of time off combined with drug and alcohol use. Additionally, it's all about opportunity. There are more people out shopping, and therefore an increase in purse snatching, muggings, and car burglaries occur.
For some, the financial stress of the holidays is enough to make them steal just to give their kids a happy holiday. More people travel and leave homes unattended during the holidays ripening the urge to break in and scavenge for whatever burglars can find to steal. If your community has a neighborhood watch program, then crime usually will decrease in your area.
How to Protect Yourself From Holiday Crime
Americans are busy getting their houses decorated and food cooked for the holidays along with a frenzy of shopping and the last thing they are thinking about is safety and security. Due to the rise in crime during the holiday season, people need to take extra precautions to protect themselves, their families and homes from holiday criminals.
Car Safety - always lock your car when out shopping or visiting family. Be sure to hide packages and purchases so they cannot be seen from the outside. It only takes a second to break a car window and steal your goods. When you leave a store from shopping, watch out that you are not followed. Some thieves actually monitor you until you leave to go home and hit you there. Women and the elderly are at the most risk.
Holiday Shopping Safety - when leaving the mall, pull your keys out early and walk straight to your car with purpose. Do not have your face in your phone, stay alert and focused and watch out for anyone taking notice of you. If someone offers you a deal that sounds “too good to be true” then it probably is. Black Friday scams are rampant; only purchase from reputable retailers that you know.
Home Safety - Have an alarm system installed and keep it on whenever you are not in the house. Lock all the doors when you are home. If you travel for the holidays, have lights come on using timers to make it look like you are home. Have someone collect your mail until you return. Keep all areas outside of your home well lit also, making it less attractive to burglars and robbery.
Online Safety/Identity Theft - pay particular attention to emails that look legitimate but aren’t. Before sending anyone money, verify the identity of the sender first. Do not give out any personal information over the phone including social security number or credit cards. Don’t click on links; go directly to websites especially banking or other high-security portals.
Charity Safety - only donate to causes that you know well and give money to local representatives that you can meet with face-to-face. Never give anyone money over the phone and if they ask for wire transfers or gift cards, hang up, it is a scam. Always do research before donating.
After the holidays, check your credit card and bank statements and look for any unauthorized charges. Clothing, electronics, and jewelry are the most common items stolen during the holidays. Keep a close eye on yours and if you make new purchases, keep them under wraps until you get home. If you are a victim of holiday crime, contact the police immediately.