Protecting Yourself This Holiday Season – Don’t Fall Prey to a Grinch
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. You know, the one who tried to stop Christmas by stealing from the Whos down in Whoville. Well, I’m sorry to say that, along with holiday cheer, the holiday season brings out the Grinches in Ukiah.
Typically, home burglaries rise during the Christmas season. While folks are busy at school performances, out Christmas shopping, enjoying holiday parties, and traveling to visit friends and family; these holiday Grinches are hard at work!
The good news is that, of the thirteen Ukiah homes burglarized this October, the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) has already sent nine of these Grinches to jail!
The bad news is that, as soon as our officers put one Grinch in jail, the holiday season just seems to bring out more.
To avoid becoming a victim of theft in Ukiah or during your holiday travels, make sure you’re not an easy target. Here are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself.
We obtained these tips from our own police officers with years of dealing with holiday thefts, websites, and other security experts:
- Always lock your car doors when you leave the vehicle, even when parked at home.
- Do not leave valuable items in your car, especially overnight.
- When unloading items from your car, don't leave your vehicle open while you take items inside -- this makes the items remaining in the car easy for thieves to take.
- Park in a well-lit areas when shopping.
- When you are out shopping, hide valuables, even small ones.
- Do not let thieves know what you buy; do not put the boxes they came in out on the curb in plain sight with the trash and recycle. Break the boxes into pieces and place them in the bottom of the bin.
- Don't let mail or papers stack up whiles you’re away; stop mail and newspaper delivery when you go out of town. Call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.
- Let a neighbor know you will be gone and that there will be no one coming and going from your house.
- Ask a neighbor or friend to remove door hangers, business cards, or other advertising left on your doorstep.
- Ask your neighbor to bring your garbage cans in if you leave on trash collection day.
- Put lights on a timing system so your house does not stay dark.
- Keep home doors and windows locked.
- Consider installing a home security system including a home security alarm.
- Don't leave a hidden key outside.
- Don't give keys to service people.
- Avoid bragging to others about valuables you own.
- Install exterior lighting, and consider using a motion sensor so lights come on unexpectedly.
- Record serial numbers and photograph household valuables.
- Always park your cars in the garage with the garage door shut to prevent anyone from observing your occupancy patterns.
- Place a radio or TV on a timer and the volume up loud enough to be heard from outside.
- Lower the sound of your telephone ringer (or answering machine) so that it can't be heard from outside.
- Never leave notes on your door indicating you are gone.
- Have your home phone forward calls to your cell. Thieves will sometimes call your home to see if you are there.
- Never open the door to strangers.
- Definitely, do not invite strangers into your home, including uninvited carpet cleaning salespeople and cheery young magazine salespeople who may be there to case the house.
- Be a good neighbor: watch your neighborhood and notify the police if you see something suspicious.
Anyone’s house can be burglarized, and having a thief in your home can be intrusive and disturbing. Sometimes, preventing thefts can simply be a matter of taking a few precautions. This Christmas, do all you can to prevent thieves from giving your belongings as their Christmas gifts.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.