Be on the lookout for crime this holiday season
Looking forward to the holidays? So are thieves. As many begin to make their holiday gift list and charity donations, burglars are gearing up to play grinch by stealing presents and breaking into homes while scammers will use seasonal grifts to get your money.
Burglaries and armed robberies are crimes that increase during the period from Thanksgiving through New Year's.
“During the holiday season, it seems more opportunities are created for criminals to commit crimes but there are a number of things people can do to prevent them,” said Mark Natale, public information officer for the Bossier City Police Department.
Through October of this year, there have been 415 burglaries in Bossier City. last year 447 While there have been 25 armed robberies so far in 2012.
To combat burglary, Bossier City puts out reserve officers to assist in certain areas as well as asking officers to be more vigilant. The police and the Bossier Sheriff's Office each have their own armed robbery task forces on the prowl to hopefully stop crimes before they start.
“We think it's a great deterrent for crime because it puts additional officers on the street and around retail establishments. The goal is to keep criminals guessing if this business they're about to rob has an armed police officer,” said Natale.
Although no one is immune to these crimes, the risk of falling victim to them can be greatly reduced with a few common sense steps.
“Stay alert — be aware of what's going on around you; there's safety in numbers — shop with friends or family; out of sight out of mind — keep packages hidden in your car and keep them away from windows when under a tree at home,” said Natale.
Here are some tips to prevent becoming a victim this season:
- Install a deadbolt lock.
- Keep garage doors closed and locked.
- Purchase as burglar alarm.
- Lock windows.
- Leave a light on at night.
- Do not allow strangers into your home, even if they say they are hurt and need help. Keep the door locked and call your local law enforcement agency.
- Keep the curtains or shades closed at night.
- If you arrive home and your door is open or things appear out of place — don't go in your home. Leave and call the police.
- The Bossier City Police Department's Vacation Watch Program will check the homes of citizens while the are out of town for the holidays. Call 741-8605 or visit www.bossiercity.org/bossierpolice/vacation_watch.html to register and patrol officers will check on your home throughout the day.
When shopping, police advise to:
- Stay alert
- Park in well lighted area, lock your vehicle, close windows,
- Keep shopping bags out of sight
- Avoid carrying cash
- Keep your purse close to your body
- Shop with a friend or family member
- Be alert for "customers" who seem to be loitering or glancing around the store often.
- Watch for suspicious persons outside businesses — especially people sitting in parked cars and standing around.
But crime doesn't end in a personal form either. Every year, thousands of shoppers fall victim to the holiday deals that seem too good to be true, and the bogus charity pleas that pull at the heart strings. This holiday season, the Better Business Bureau is warning holiday shoppers and donors to know the red flags and to be on their guard for this season’s holiday scams.
- If you shop Craigslist or other free bulletin board sites, look for local sellers and conduct transactions in person. Bring a friend if you're uncomfortable meeting the seller alone. Never wire money as payment. If you're shopping on auctions like EBay, look at seller ratings and read their reviews. Don't buy if the deal sounds too good to be true.
- Don't let yourself get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. While you're struggling with bags of presents, identity thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over your shoulder to copy your debit or credit card numbers. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your PIN while purchasing items or getting money from an ATM. Make sure you put your card back in your wallet after each purchase.
- Always research charities with BBB before you give to see if the charity meets BBB's 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. The holidays are a time of giving, and that creates an opportunity for scammers to solicit donations to line their own pockets. Beware of solicitations from charities that don't necessarily deliver on their promises or are ill-equipped to carry through on their plans. Resist demands for on-the-spot donations. Up-to-date reports on local and national charities are available at www.give.org.
Bossier Sheriff’s Office to deploy armed robbery task force
Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington will deploy an Armed Robbery Task Force starting the day after Thanksgiving and run through the end of the year to deter and prevent crime during the holidays.
Sheriff’s deputies will ride in marked and unmarked vehicles all throughout the parish, particularly at businesses, convenience stores, schools and parking lots, in order to deter robberies and quickly respond should the need arise.
“We want our residents and businesses to know that our deputies will be on the streets with targeted patrols to combat crime so that folks can enjoy this holiday season,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington. “Public safety is my top goal throughout the year, but ramping up our efforts to keep robberies from occurring as people are out and about shopping for the holidays provides that extra precaution. It also sends a strong message to would-be robbers that we will not tolerate criminal behaviour.”
The Armed Robbery Task Force will focus on prevention and apprehension--preventing armed robberies and apprehending those who commit them. It is a proactive approach to crime fighting, and its aim will be to prevent armed robberies and bring to justice those who do.