Shop, drive safe this season

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Local law enforcement officials urge Pearl River County residents to be safe while shopping and traveling this holiday season.
Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Marc Ogden said incidents of burglaries and larcenies typically spike during the holidays, so he would like to remind shoppers to keep their eyes open at this time of year. As people are shopping for gifts, they may forget to keep presents out of sight from potential thieves, mistakenly placing them in the backseat where anyone can see them.
Instead of leaving gifts in the backseat of a vehicle, Ogden suggests keeping them in the trunk. The same is true for purses or other valuables; keep them out of sight.
“You don’t want to entice someone to break in,” Ogden said.
While shopping for gifts, be mindful of the surroundings. Avoid dark parking lots and watch out for suspicious activities and people.
“If someone or something makes you uncomfortable, go back to where there are more people around,” Ogden said.
After bringing those purchases home, be sure to keep them out of sight from windows. And, once those gifts are opened and in use, avoid putting the boxes by the roadside. Ogden said a box for an expensive item, such as a new television, could act as an invitation to potential burglars. Instead, break those boxes down and put them in a garbage bags.
The holiday season also means more people will be traveling to see friends and family. By driving defensively, wearing a seatbelt and ensuring the vehicle is in proper working order, problems while traveling to those destinations can be avoided.
Ogden also suggested that drivers ensure their driver’s license is up to date and children who should be in car seats are properly secured.
Before leaving to take a holiday trip, enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to watch the home, check the mail and ensure doors are locked. Car doors should also remain locked at all times.
Social media posts outlining the fact the family will be out of town should be avoided. It’s best to wait until the trip is over to post pictures or updates about the trip.
“People can see that and know no one will be home,” Ogden said.
Ogden also said that people carefully research an organization that requests donations. Some of those calls could be from scammers. Businesses that have been determined to be fielding scam attempts can be found on the Better Business Bureau’s website.

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