New Hampshire continues to attract attention due to its continuing ranking as the safest state in the Nation when it comes to crime. Such fantastic news often lulls citizens into a sense of complacency, especially at the holidays when everyone is trying to focus on the positive aspects of the season. Historically crime – especially crimes against property, e.g., burglary, larceny, thefts from motor vehicles, shoplifting – increase significantly when the economy is bad. Given the current unemployment and economic projections, even the “Live Free or Die” State will be hard pressed to keep crime at its current low level forever. Therefore, to hopefully encourage you to “keep your guard up,” here are some practical safety tips for holiday travel and shopping during the remainder of December.
> If traveling by car, drive extra attentively/defensively, and watch out for “the other guy.” The month of December is among the heaviest highway traffic periods of the year. So, before departing, know where you’re going by reviewing your route on Google or Mapquest;
check for construction delays along your route by going to each state’s website – www.state.(enter the 2-letter abbreviation).us, and see what the weather forecast is at your destination and along your projected route at http://www.weather.com/ or The Weather Channel. Always keep your gas tank at least half full.
> Drink responsibly and use a “designated driver” – NEVER let a friend or family member drive drunk!
> If traveling by plane, check at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm to be sure that what you have in your carry-on luggage is allowed by TSA. Leave extra early for the airport, and anticipate longer than usual delays at security checkpoints, particularly due to the enhanced scanning and pat-down procedures now in place at many major airports. Also, don’t wrap Christmas gifts, as TSA security personnel may open your packages, thus destroying the gift wrapping.
> Use extra caution when walking after dark! Street robbers and muggers will also be out “shopping” for the cash in your pocket and what you have just purchased.
> Don’t take more credit cards along than is absolutely necessary. If a sales clerk or cashier forgets to return your credit card or you forget to get it back, do NOT wait until later – return to the store where you think you left it RIGHT AWAY. If you lose a credit card while shopping, or have one stolen, do NOT wait until you get home to call the store or call the police – report the loss/theft to your credit card company/bank IMMEDIATELY!! Most credit card companies have 800 numbers that operate on extended hours – do you know the 800 numbers for your credit card banks?
> When in a store shopping, NEVER leave your purse/wallet in the shopping cart unattended while you walk over to a counter to look at other items.
> When at the checkout counter paying for a purchase, NEVER lay your purse or wallet down or open on the counter, even for a second, while you try to find a credit card or check to see if you bought the right size item. Keep that credit card in your hand at all times! Also, be aware that the person behind you in line may be an identity thief who can memorize credit card and driver’s license numbers.
> When shopping, be aware of your surroundings; scan the area from time to time; avoid concentrating so hard on shopping that you fail to keep track of where you are and others near you. Don’t carry too many packages in your arms at the same time. If you can’t hang tightly onto your purse or it dangles alongside you, it can quickly be snatched. Once you get an armload/handful of packages, make a trip to your car and unload.
> Don’t set your car up as a target by leaving “Steal Me!” invitations inside. NEVER leave bags or packages on the front or rear seats where they can be seen – put them in the trunk. If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, take a blanket or sheet along to cover your purchases.
> Don’t leave coins or currency in the cup or coin holder, or iPods or CDs in the center console or sun visor, or your GPS attached to your front windshield. Thieves often hang around mall parking lots and watch shoppers, then break in after you go inside the mall or store. To counteract this, move your car to another parking space after you make that second trip out to the parking lot to put packages in your trunk. It may be inconvenient but it might save you in the long run. After dark, park under/near a light pole.
`Be Safe – Not Sorry – This Holiday Travel-Shopping Season J
Plymouth State University Police