The holidays bring an increase in crimes like theft and burglary, so this is a reminder to keep safe and secure now and throughout the year and remember to watch out for neighbors and friends. Do not leave your car running and walk away for coffee, deliveries or while getting gas.
Packages: In past years, there have been thefts of packages that were left on porches. If you are receiving packages, make sure you have them sent to a location where you or someone you trust will be available to receive them. If you are going to be out of town, make sure to arrange for someone to receive your package. You can also have them delivered to an Amazon or UPS locker.
Be alert: Walk confidently with your head up and stay in well-lit and well-traveled areas. Pay attention to your surroundings. Many robberies occur when the criminal approaches from behind, so make sure to glance behind you on occasion. Make sure not to wear headphones/earbuds so that you can hear if someone comes up behind you. If you carry a purse, keep it front of you and close to your body. You can do this covering the flap or clasp with your hand or forearm. Never leave your purse in a shopping cart or on a counter while you pay for your purchases. Stay off your cell phone- smart phone thefts have been a major issue in recent years; don't advertise that you have one.
Be discreet: Never carry large amounts of money. If possible, use credit cards or checks instead of cash. Be sure to tear up any receipts that may be used to complete the transaction. Credit card fraud can ruin your holiday season. Thieves and pickpockets are more likely to be attracted by expensive clothes and jewelry.
Secure your car: Cars are an easy target for criminals. Park your car as close to your destination as possible and in a well-lit area. While driving, leave at least a full length of car space between you and the cars in front of you. Always make sure to lock your doors even if you are only going to be gone for a few minutes. As the temperatures drop, it can be tempting to leave your car running to warm it up- this is one of the main ways cars are stolen in the winter. When shopping, remember to store your packages in the trunk of the car, not on the backseat. Criminals can be on the lookout for unsuspecting shoppers who simply drop their purchases into the car and then return to keep shopping. Whether you are shopping or going out to a bar or restaurant, it is best to put your items in the truck before you get to your destination. When returning to your car or home, have your keys ready in your hand. Lock your doors immediately upon entering your vehicle and always drive with your doors locked.
When at gas stations, shut off your vehicle, hold on to your keys and phone and then use the pumps.
Secure your home: Now that it is getting dark earlier, make sure your outdoor lights are on at night. Motion sensor lights are a good idea as well. When you are out shopping, leave some lights on inside your home as well. Make sure to close your blinds or curtains to prevent people from viewing what you have in your home. If you have a security system, make sure it is armed, even if you are going to be out for only a short while. You may also want to let a neighbor know if you will be out of the house for a longer amount of time so that they can keep an eye on your house. If you are going on vacation and it snows, ask a neighbor to shovel your sidewalk or make a path in the snow so that it looks like someone is home.
Disposal: Leaving a big screen TV box in the alley advertises exactly what you have in your house. Make sure to break down boxes and turn them inside out to prevent this. Even better, put the boxes out the day before your recycling pick-up.
* Chicago Police Department