IPD: Stay on alert to avoid holiday crime

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

In the television show, a mean, green Grinch sneaks into homes in Whoville and steals Christmas gifts from unsuspecting slumberers; local law enforcement contend real-life often unfortunately mimics TV.

Ironton police are warning area residents that thefts and burglaries increase during the holidays and people should plan ahead on how to make it more difficult for Grinches to steal their Christmas.

"This time of year we get it all: cars broken into, houses, businesses. They'll steal the presents from underneath your Christmas Tree," Ironton police detective Jim Akers said.

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Akers said shoppers should never leave gifts or other valuables, such as cell phones, CDs and purses in the front of the car where would-be thieves can see them.

"If you have to leave things in your car, leave them in the trunk. If you don't have a trunk, take them home," Akers said.

Also, always lock your car. An unlocked door is nothing more than an invitation to a would-be thief, he said.

Akers said when people are away from their houses, they should leave lights, and even their television, on to give the appearance that someone is home.

"If they hear noise they may think someone is there," he said.

If you must be away from your house for more than a day, Akers suggested getting someone to watch your house for you.

Other holiday safety tips from the National Crime Prevention Council:

4When shopping, stay alert and be aware of everything around you at all times. Park in well-lighted spaces and as close to the store as possible.

4Do not carry large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card if possible. Carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.

4If you take your children shopping, teach them to go to a police officer or a store security guard if they get separated or get lost.

4Stay alert to suspicious-looking couriers delivering packages to you or your neighbors.

4Many con artists take advantage of holiday generosity by going door-to-door. Ask for identification and get specifics to how and where the donations will be spent or used. If you feel uncomfortable, just say "no thank you" and shut the door.