MOUNT GILEAD — The most joyous time of the year can sometimes turn to the most criminal.
Mount Gilead Police Chief Adam Lakey offers simple, but effective, ways to protect yourself during the holiday season.
“Things like locking your doors and windows, both on your houses and your cars,” Lakey said.
“We have found that almost all of our thefts from vehicles have been from unlocked cars. Generally, when they’re locked, they’re bypassed and they get the ones that are unlocked.”
Lakey said his department and the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office both offer a house watch program.
“If residents are leaving for really any amount of time, or an extended amount of time, they can fill out a house watch form and officers will physically go and check their residence on a regular basis.”
Night shift officers will keep an extra eye on the residence, Lakey said.
“They’ll check the doors and make sure nothing is tampered with.”
Other tips include more outdoor lighting around your home and not putting boxes with expensive items that you’ve bought out by the curb for pick-up.
“Like your big screen TV boxes advertising what you have inside,” he said.
“Also, locking your valuables or expensive gifts in your trunk instead of leaving them on the front seat. Also, not leaving small children or pets unattended in your vehicles.”
Residents get busy this time of the year. Some attend parties with alcohol.
“Don’t drink and drive. There are lots of families on the roadways; lots of children, lots of grandparents,” Lakey said. “We want everybody to have a safe holiday.”
Being in a rush can contribute to traffic accidents.
“You have more people being on the road. More going to parties and possibly drinking and driving. You’ve got snow starting to come down.”
Being careful with your money can avoid theft.
“I’d recommend not carrying any amount of cash unless you feel that you have to. If you are going to carry cash, you’re better to carry it in your front pocket or in a billfold that is somehow secure.”
Credit card theft and scams are issues year-round.
“Everyone shops online. Try to use reputable web sites and retailers. If you see something where the price is too good to be true, it probably is. When you provide them with your credit card information or your bank account information, you’re really opening yourself up.”
Local residents have “lost thousands and thousands of dollars,” Lakey said.
“A lot of your information is already available online. So they just need a little bit more information to start using your identity or opening accounts.”
As with any suspicious criminal activity, Lakey has this advice.
“If you see something out of the ordinary, call us and we’ll check it out.”