Holiday crime prevention tips from Edmonds police

The Edmonds Police Department offers the following reminders for preventing crimes this holiday season:

Before leaving on a holiday vacation or trip:
• Avoid advertising, especially in front of strangers, that you will be leaving home for the holidays.
• If available, use the phone company’s call forwarding to forward all your calls.
• Suspend newspaper deliveries and have your mail held at the post office.
• Have a trusted neighbor watch your home while you are gone.
• Make sure your home looks occupied while you are away.
• Have a neighbor park their car in your driveway.
• Use timers on your lights.

For your  home:
• Keep the outside of your home well-lit with doors locked and window curtains closed.
• Do not display gifts beneath the Christmas tree that can be seen from windows or doors.
• After the holidays, do not advertise gifts received by leaving boxes for the garbage collection. Instead, destroy or flatten for closure in a recycle bin.

When parking your vehicle, remember to:
• Park your vehicle in an area that is visible to the public and well-lit at night.
• Secure all doors and windows.
• Remove all valuables.
• Do not pack your car the night before leaving home and leave it outside. It makes a very attractive target for thieves.

Tips for the parking lot:
• Shop early and leave early to avoid closing times.
• Park in a high-visibility area and check for lighting in case you leave during hours of darkness.
• Do not park next to a vehicle with dark-tinted windows.
• Lock all your valuables in the trunk of your vehicle.
• Leave the store with others.
• If you feel uncomfortable, ask security to escort you to your vehicle.
• Walk briskly, confidently and directly through the parking lot.
• Be cautious of people handing out fliers or asking questions in the parking area.
• Watch for people who may be following you. This can occur inside as well as outside.
• If you suspect that someone is following you, return to the store and report it to security immediately.

Tips while shopping:
• Stay alert of your surroundings.
• Shop with a friend.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
• Pay for purchases with a check or credit card.
• If possible, carry only your driver’s license, personal checks or necessary credit cards.
• If you must carry a purse, do not wrap the straps around your arms or shoulders. Carry a clutch purse tightly under your arm or wear a fanny pack.
• Do not carry a wallet in your back pocket. It should be placed in the front pocket of your pants for safety.
• Be alert that crooks look for the “high-dollar” shopping bags with your purchases. When possible, slip bags into a plain nondescript bag.
• Watch handbags while eating in food courts; bags can easily be switched or taken.
• Educate your children what to do if they become lost.
• Do not overburden yourself with packages. Use the store’s package pick-up. Have your car keys ready before leaving the store.
• If you do return to your vehicle to unload purchases, place them in the trunk of the vehicle.
• Shop early, as fewer people are present at closing time.
• Teach your children to never talk with or go anywhere with a stranger.

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