Police Department Offers Holiday Crime Prevention Tips
The Cedar Rapids Police Department would like to remind citizens of a few crime prevention tips this holiday season. These crime prevention tips are part of the department’s ongoing commitment to keeping our community safe for those who live, work, or visit our city.
There will be many people shopping over the next several days and weeks. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Don't leave a building or your vehicle until you have ensured all is secure and safe. Take 60 seconds to drive around parking lots and look for anything out of the ordinary or suspicious before you pull into the closest parking space. Trust your instincts- if you feel uncomfortable with a place or person, leave the area immediately. If something looks suspicious to you, that’s because it probably is. Please call the Police Department immediately to report suspicious activity.
Park your vehicle in a well-lit area and always lock your vehicle. Thefts are typically a crime of opportunity as thieves are looking for an easy target and anything you can do to deter them from choosing your car, the better. Minimize the number of valuables left in your vehicle and keep valuables, electronics (including cell phones and CDs), gifts and other items that may tempt a thief stored out of sight.
Protect your purse or wallet at all times. Never carry large amounts of cash or extra credit cards. Carry only those cards or cash that you will need to use that day. Crime prevention experts recommend that shoppers get out of the habit of even carrying a purse and recommend carrying only what you absolutely need to shop such as identification, credit cards, checkbook, or cash. These items can fit into a pocket. Never leave your purse, wallet or cell phone unattended in a public place, including in the shopping cart inside the store.
Don't overburden yourself with packages while shopping. If possible, shop with a friend so that you can look out for one another. Talk to your children about what should happen and what they should do in the event you are separated from them.
Have your keys out and ready as you approach your vehicle. Do not leave your car unattended with the motor running or with the keys in the ignition; not even for the very short time needed to do a quick errand or pay for fuel.
Only make online purchases from trusted, secure websites. Track your purchases and arrange for them to be picked up by a neighbor or delivered to your workplace if you are not going to be home when the items are expected to be delivered so that they aren’t outside your door all day.
At home, make sure that all doors and windows are kept locked. Ensure that dark areas and entrances have outdoor lights that are turned on after dark or that are activated by sensors. Place gifts where they can't be seen from the outside. Never open your door to strangers. Legitimate delivery people will be able to show identification.
If traveling, use timers for lights while you're away. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to watch your home. Remember to make arrangements for mail and newspapers.
Be careful leaving boxes from new electronics and other valuables out on the curb for garbage pickup. This practice may actually announce to a potential thief that you just received new items. Break the boxes down and dispose of them inside the proper recycling or trash container.
When driving, give other drivers plenty of space and always leave yourself an out to avoid a crash. If you attend parties where alcohol is served, remember to use a designated driver. Minimize distractions such as talking or texting on a cell phone. Always wear your seat belts.
Give yourself extra time for travel, especially during periods of inclement weather. Even in dry conditions, traffic during the holidays is heavier than normal, and it will take longer than you expect to get around.
After the holidays, pay close attention to bills and immediately report any unauthorized charges. Photograph new items and record their serial numbers.