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Police urge holiday shopping safety
Nov 23, 2012 4:20 pm
As the holiday season kicks off and people rush to check items off the shopping list, it is easy to become distracted and less aware of one's surroundings.
This distraction can make shoppers more vulnerable to criminals, according to Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen.
“This time of year, everything gets so busy and hectic,” said Bowen. “Be aware of your surroundings in parking lots and of people around you.”
According to Bowen, the police department will increase patrols throughout the holidays – especially in shopping center parking lots.
“They will see an increased presence from us from now through Christmas,” said Bowen.
The public safety department also has a camera that will be set up in parking lots throughout town on a rotating basis.
Additionally, volunteers from the Volunteers Impacting Community Endeavors program – Lebanon Police Department’s newly created volunteer program – will patrol local shopping areas.
“These are graduates of our Citizens Police Academy,” said Bowen. “We’re going to put them out in shopping centers; not as police, but just as an extra set of eyes…they’re not acting in a law enforcement capacity; they’re in an auxiliary role.”
Volunteers will radio dispatch if they see anything suspicious or unusual.
Bowen said there are several precautions anyone can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim during the holiday season.
He offered the following suggestions:
• Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
• Lock your vehicle and close all windows even if you’re gone for a few minutes. Lock packages and valuables in the trunk.
• Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle running unoccupied.
• Park near streetlights if possible and have your keys in your hands when you return to enter your vehicle.
• Check the interior of your vehicle before getting in.
• Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion.
• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use checks or credit cards if possible to pay for purchases.
• If your credit cards are lost or stolen, notify the issuers immediately.
• Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbags, and packages. Do not put these items on top of your vehicle in order to open your vehicle.
• Always lock your doors and windows at home and give the impression that your house is occupied by leaving lights and a radio or television on.
• Do not put gifts or expensive items where they can be seen from the street.
• Advise neighbors and police if you’re going to be away from your home for an extended period of time.
• Have mall security or police to escort you to your vehicle when possible.
Bowen said people should not be afraid to call the police if they see something of which they were unsure.
“If something doesn’t seem right or something doesn’t look right, just pick up the phone and call us,” said Bowen
For emergencies, call 911; for non-emergencies, call 615-444-2323.