By Stan Rosenzweig
December is a wonderful time. There is Christmas if you are Christian, Hanukkah if you are Jewish, Kwanzaa if you are of African Heritage, Mawlid an Nabi if you are Islamic, Rohatsu if your are Buddhist, and Yule if you are Wiccan. December is our season of celebration. We connect with friends, buy each other gifts, and are filled with glad tidings.
Yet, among all of the heritages recognized in Utah, there is one less discussed heritage that makes itself richer at the rest of our expense: common thievery. While most of us are recognizing and celebrating our traditions, there is that one group that takes advantage when we are at our most unguarded.
Holiday thieves break into our cars to steal wrapped gifts lying on the back seat. They observe and steal our unguarded credit card numbers and passwords. They follow us into shopping venues and pickpocket our cash, credit cards and other valuables right from under our eyes.
Don’t let them spoil your holiday. Follow a few simple precautions to protect yourself against holiday thieves.
First, be mindful of how and where you carry your valuables. Don’t flash a wad of cash. Shop low key and keep valuables in an inside pocket, not in a loosely flung handbag or a backpack.
You’ve heard this before, but it’s still true: Don’t leave valuables visible in your car. Put them in the trunk. Keep receipts with you so that even if a thief breaks in and takes things, it will be harder to bring them back to the store for a refund.
When shopping, keep your cell phone handy and if someone makes you suspicious or uncomfortable, notify security, or call the police. It’s also a good idea to program the CHPD non-emergency number (801-840-4000) into your phone.
Always park and walk in well-lit areas. Be situationally aware of what’s going on around you. If you carry a purse, keep it close, with the opening or flap towards your body. Never leave it unattended in a shopping cart and never keep your wallet, credit cards or cash in a backpack. Also, never give your credit card information in response to unsolicited calls or emails. During holiday travel, have a neighbor collect your mail and newspapers, or suspend delivery. Use timers to turn lights off and on.
Finally, remember, if you see something, say something. Report suspicious activity to 801-840-4000 and for emergencies, call 9-1-1.
Be aware and have a great December holiday season.