Don’t get hung out to dry this Christmas

Published 11:48 am Thursday, December 24, 2009

People want to feel carefree during the holidays, but there is a thin line between carefree and careless. The Clanton Police Department offers tips for those who don’t want to become holiday crime victims.

If you are traveling, it’s a good idea to either leave a light on or have an automatic timer installed on your house lights.

Police Chief Brian Stilwell said trusted neighbors could keep watch on your home and pick up mail once it is delivered. Residents may also request extra patrols from law enforcement.

“Watch out for your neighbor, and have your neighbor watch out for you,” Stilwell said.

People should not leave empty boxes outside, because the boxes indicate what items may be found inside the home.

Receipts should be kept because they often contain serial numbers used to locate or disable electronic items.

“Try to put your garbage out the day of collection, especially around Christmas,” Stilwell advised.

Papers containing personal information should be shredded prior to disposal, and information should never be given out over the phone.

Some scammers may pose as charities asking for donations, Stilwell said.

“Make sure they are legitimate. They can always check with their local fire department or police department,” he said.

Shoppers should never leave packages visible in their vehicle. These items should be placed either in a trunk or under a blanket or seat. Purses and wallets should not be left unattended. It’s also a good idea to park in a well-lit area.

“The biggest thing is, when you’re leaving or arriving, be wary of your surroundings,” Stilwell said. “Those little hairs on the back of your neck work.”

Anyone suspicious of criminal activity should walk back into a store and contact law enforcement.

“That’s what we’re here for,” he said.