Protect your belongings during the holidays

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

As Thursday kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season, police are reminding local residents that shopping is not the only activity that occurs at the stores this time of year.
“With the approaching holiday season, it is common for certain types of crimes to increase,” Elizabethton Police Department Capt. Joy Shoun said. “During this time, we also understand that individuals have very busy schedules and are commonly pre-occupied with other matters.”
With all the hustle and bustle in crowded stores and parking lots, Shoun said crimes like purse snatching and car burglaries become more common this time of year. However, there are some basic measures everyone can take to help prevent becoming a victim of a crime, she said.
Her first point of advice, never leave your personal belongings such as a purse or wallet unattended.
“Even while shopping, do not walk away from your shopping cart and leave these personal items unattended,” Shoun said. “Thefts can occur very quickly, and due to crowded stores this time of year, suspects can leave the area very quickly, oftentimes undetected. This also includes the period of time when shoppers are loading and unloading merchandise from a shopping cart in a vehicle.”
Shoun also recommends taking an inventory of your belongings, such as a purse or coat, to make sure they are not inadvertently left behind.
Shoppers should also take care to be aware of their surroundings when entering or exiting stores, Shoun said. This will help a person avoid being isolated and allow them to spot suspicious individuals, she said.
The most simple advice Shoun offered is to lock your doors.
“Many investigations involving vehicle burglaries and stolen vehicles determine that the vehicles were left unsecured, and in the cases of auto theft a key had been left inside the vehicle. It is also important not to leave valuable items inside vehicles in plain view,” Shoun said. “Criminals look for easy targets and they will look for such things.”
In the event you do become a victim of a theft, Shoun said being able to provide police with detailed descriptions of the items stolen and specific information on any credit cards or bank accounts can help officers in their investigation. She also asked that people report any suspicious activity or individuals to the appropriate authorities.
“Our officers are aware of these concerns and trends and will be taking the necessary efforts to target these specific types of crimes,” Shoun said. “As always, with the help of the citizens and involvement by the community, we increase our ability to be effective in this effort.”

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