Take precautions during holiday seasonWORTHINGTON — Love it or hate, you can’t avoid it. The holidays are here, and along with the pageants, decorations, food preparation and partygoing comes the shopping.
WORTHINGTON — Love it or hate, you can’t avoid it. The holidays are here, and along with the pageants, decorations, food preparation and partygoing comes the shopping.
Whether you’re more of a “make the rounds to every store in search of the perfect gift” shopper or a “the store is closing in 17 minutes and I still need presents for brother Bill, best friend Sue and dear sweet Nana” shopper, there are things each person should do to keep their belongings secure.
In recent weeks, the Worthington Police Department responded to several incidents of thefts from vehicles and garages.
Much of that can be avoided, according to Officer Kirk Schelhaas, if people take some simple precautions.
“Lock your doors. Close your windows,” he said. “Don’t leave purses and wallets on vehicle seats.”
Shopping days can be crazy, especially on or around Black Friday, and many people rush to get in the door of their favorite store, forgetting to lock up — not just car doors, but garage and house doors.
Packages are left in full view on back seats, wallets are left on dashboards and purses are left unattended in shopping carts.
“Things like that are tempting to a thief,” Schelhaas said. “You need to be aware of what and who is around you.”
Lock packages in the trunk of a vehicle whenever possible, he said, and get them out of sight.
A flat-screen TV on a back seat in an unattended vehicle is never a good idea.
There are a few others things people can do to make themselves less of a tempting target to thieves, such as putting CDs and GPS units in a glove compartment.
Those GPS holders can be helpful when navigating, but the sight of one stuck to a windshield or dashboard of a parked car tells a thief there is GPS on board.
Another hint — park cars in a lighted area to make the vehicle more visible to everyone.
Purses are a handy thing, but some women have a tendency to set a purse in the front area of a shopping cart.
During the busy holiday shopping season, aisles are more crowded than ever, and the temptation to step away from that cart and dash to a nearby display can be overwhelming.
Schelhaas said this is a no-no.
“Keep your purse with you at all times or leave it at home,” he said.
Take the essentials — identification, a credit card and some cash — but resist the idea of grabbing every credit card and flashing wads of cash.
Some of the same rules apply to homes, especially around the holidays.
Lock those doors, and take the time to register and record serial numbers.
Etching pens can be used to mark tools, electronics and other items.
Photographs of expensive items can also be helpful.
“We have a room full of stuff in evidence that can’t be claimed,” Schelhaas remarked. “Power tools especially.”
One DeWalt cordless drill looks like any other unless that drill was etched with initials, a first name or even a particular mark.
Serial numbers can be compared, which can help immensely in identifying personal belongings recovered after a theft or robbery.
The Worthington Police Department has several etching pens that can be borrowed for a short time.
Watching out for your neighbors is also important, Schelhaas said.
The more eyes there are, the less the bad guys can get away with.
“And always report all vandalism and theft,” he said. “Some people think their damage or loss isn’t important enough, but if we know about all of the incidents, it may help in establishing a pattern or give us some better ideas. Always report those things to the police.”
For personal safety, people should be careful about carrying a large amount of boxes or bags at once, because it can be hard to see or move quickly in unsafe situations.
Shopping in pairs, especially when young children are accompanying adults, is also a good idea.
To report an incident to the Worthington Police Department, call 372-2136.