Stay happy in winter: Don’t give thieves gift

Daily Journal

Cold weather and Black Friday have brought a spate of problems that will instantly take the joy out of the holiday season.

When the temperature dives, as it did recently, many people who have parked outdoors will start their vehicles in the morning and let them idle, while they finish preparations before heading to work or school. Others will leave their vehicles running while they go into a store for a quick errand.

In both cases, they are offering vehicle thieves an easy target. All they have to do is jump in and drive away. A string of vehicle thefts last month illustrated how easy it can be to steal idling vehicles.

Police departments across the area advise against leaving keys in a vehicle and certainly not leaving the vehicle running and unattended.

The holiday shopping season also is a prime time for thefts, both at home and while shopping. The Franklin Police Department offers these safety tips:

Be conscientious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even if you will only be gone for a minute.

Don’t put large displays of holiday gifts in view of your windows or doors.

When going on trips or out for evenings, use automatic timers to turn indoor lights on and off to make it appear you are home.

Immediately after the holidays, mark new gifts with your driver’s license or ID number.

Don’t advertise what you got for Christmas by putting the boxes out on trash day. Break the boxes down or take them to a recycling center yourself.

When shopping, lock your car and make sure the windows are closed. Periodically, return to your vehicle and lock packages in the trunk.

Park in well-lit areas, as close as possible to store entrances. Be particularly aware of people in the parking lot, especially near your car. If you must shop in the evening, shop with a friend.

Carry only the charge cards you will need. Don’t carry or flash large sums of cash.

Carry your purse next to your body with the purse flap against you. Men should carry their wallets in front or inside pockets.

Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if you become separated in a store or shopping mall.

Don’t hesitate to notify store security if you see suspicious activity.

If you are a victim of a crime, report it to police immediately.

The holidays should be a joyous time. Following some simple precautions can help keep it that way.

At issue

The holiday shopping season sees an uptick in thefts.

Our point

By following simple precautions, people can reduce the risk of being a victim.