As the holiday season approaches, and in light of the three recent kidnapping and robbery incidents at the Westfield Wheaton shopping mall, Montgomery County Police would like to offer this comprehensive list of tips to help keep residents safe while shopping, while walking, and while at home. While opportunities for robberies and burglaries increase during the holiday season, many robberies and burglaries can be prevented by keeping these safety tips in mind.
- Do not become distracted by your shopping. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Park in well-lit parking lots and park as close to the mall or store as possible.
- Lock your car doors and keep packages hidden in the trunk of or under the seats of your vehicle.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash with you and pay with checks or credit cards when possible.
- Ensure that you are not encumbered with a large number of packages. Try to make trips back to your vehicle to store packages in the trunk as you continue to shop.
- Carry your closed purse as close to your body as possible.
- Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
When out walking:
- Wherever you are, on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, or waiting for a bus or the subway, stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
- Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.
- Stick to well-lighted and well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
- Do not flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
- Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
- If you think that someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street and walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.
If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist. Give up your property – do not endanger your life. Report the crime to police as soon as possible, and try to describe the attacker accurately. Your rapid reporting of the incident may prevent others from becoming victims.
When at home:
- If your Christmas tree can be seen through a window, do not display presents under the tree where they could be seen.
- Make sure to lock doors and windows.
- If you are going away for the holiday, let a neighbor know that your home will not be occupied and have someone pick up your mail and newspapers.
- Used time lights to give the appearance that someone is at home.
- After the holidays, be sure to break down card boards boxes from gifts for recycling so that a potential burglar does not know your home has a new computer, TV, video game system, etc.
Keep these safety tips in mind to help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. # # #
Contact: Media Services Division Phone: 240.773.5030