Just as sure as there are last-minute shoppers, there is also the criminal element waiting to take advantage of holiday activity. Rania Mankarious is Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston. She says there are prowlers, burglars, pick-pockets, muggers, panhandlers and thugs waiting to strike when you least expect.
“Criminals are just looking for people that are frazzled, they know it is the perfect time of year to strike because people tend to have more cash on hand. They’re also busier, so they’re letting their guards down and it’s just a perfect storm. So we’re saying take that opportunity away.”
If you are shopping, dress comfortably, avoid wearing expensive jewelry, pay for purchases with a debit or credit card if possible, and keep cash in your front pocket. Don’t be overloaded with purchases when going to your vehicle, and do not park your car with items in plain view.
“The first quarter of 2013, we had over 5,600 burglaries of motor vehicles, that was just in the first quarter. It’s very, very simple. The things you don’t need in your car, leave them at home, and the things that you do need in your car when you run your day to day errands, put them in the trunk.”
That Christmas tree full of presents should be free from anything that might ignite like a lit candle. If you plan on visiting out of town for awhile, let your neighbors know.
“A lot of burglars and criminals, they are just waiting to know that you’re out of your house, and they are gonna take the first opportunity they can to break in. And, hopefully by now, everybody knows, don’t post on social media that you’re about to walk out to the door and hitting the airport, and then going to Europe for two weeks. Take your pictures and have a wonderful trip, and post them when you get back.”
She says celebrate safety this holiday by being in control, organized and vigilant.