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Safety measures can help keep holidays joyful

Christmas is usually a time of joy, but this can quickly be ruined if you become a victim of a crime.

There is always an increase in crime this time of year, especially burglaries, thefts, and robberies.

Whenever you leave your home, whether it is to go to work, shopping, or out to dinner, make sure you lock all of your doors and windows.

Leave lights on inside and outside your home. Consider installing extra lighting around the outside of your home, such as dusk to dawn lights and motion sensitive lighting.

Do not leave your Christmas presents in plain view as this may be tempting to burglars. You should record serial numbers and descriptions of all your belongings. Take photographs or make a video throughout your home so that you have a description of your belongings for insurance purposes or to aid the Sheriff’s Office in identifying your property should it get stolen.

If you have a neighbor or relative that you trust, make them aware that you are leaving your house and ask them to look out for you while you are away.

Report all suspicious activity (cars, pedestrians) in your neighborhood to the Sheriff’s Office or you local law enforcement agency.

When you go out shopping, never leave your purse or other valuables in your vehicle. Criminals will not hesitate to break out your windows and steal your belongings. If you must leave items in your car, secure them in the trunk.

Ladies, do not allow your purse to hang freely from your shoulder. Secure it tightly under your arm. Snatch thieves will grab a purse from you and flee. Never leave your purse in the shopping cart. Better yet, do not even carry your purse. Carry your checkbook, credit cards and cash in your front pockets and leave your purse at home.

Do not give out your credit card numbers or social security numbers to anyone that you did not initiate the transaction with, and even then ensure that it is a reputable company and that they have a definite need for this information.

Keep young children within eye sight at all times. Always be aware of your surroundings, carry yourself with authority, and do not look like a victim.

Make sure you park in well lit areas. Ask store personnel or security officers to walk you to your vehicle.

Use good old common sense, trust your instincts, and do not be embarrassed to ask for help.

Stay safe and have a Merry Christmas!

Sheriff Jeff Lawless oversees the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.