While many think of feast-covered tables surrounded by family, others plot ways to capitalize from the excitement of the holiday season. Throughout the hustle and bustle this holiday season, there is often room for forgetfulness and negligence. We must be sure to keep responsibility at the forefront of our thoughts as we muddle through the details of our busy holiday plans. To avoid becoming a victim, follow these helpful crime prevention tips below.
Tip No. 1: Secure It, Citrus! We’ve said it about 1 million times, but if it takes saying it 1 million and one times for people to understand, we will shout it from the rooftops! Secure It, Citrus! This may seem like common sense, but when you have a lot on your mind it can be easy to forget such a simple task. Most criminals want an easy way in, whether it’s an unlocked door or open window. Give yourself peace of mind by taking a few seconds to secure your home, vehicles, trailers, and buildings such as sheds or garages.
Tip No. 2: Hide your valuables. In Citrus County, an average of 85% of vehicle burglaries occur when a vehicle is left unsecured. The easiest way to avoid having your valuables stolen is by hiding them! If there is nothing valuable in-sight, what would compel a stranger to smash the windows out of your vehicle? By hiding your goods in the trunk or tucking them under your seat, you will greatly dissuade anyone from wanting to break in. Don’t forget, if you lock your vehicle, your chances of being victimized are significantly decreased and if you remove them altogether once you’re home, there’s nothing at risk of being stolen!
Tip No. 3: Don’t over-share plans or gifts. Although it’s exciting to hit the road and visit family, be sure to not give away too many details about where you’re going or how long you’ll be gone for. While it’s exciting to share these details on social media with family and friends, you may also be sharing that your home will be vacant until next week and is an easy target. Also, refrain from spreading the news about the great gifts you received, whether it be posting on social media or carelessly leaving a large TV box beside your garbage can. Do your best to break large boxes down and fit them into your garbage can, even if you have to separate it into a few bags.
Tip No. 4: Don’t get in a jam, avoid scams! While many of us feel more generous during this time of year, we must remain vigilant of those trying to take advantage of our light-hearted spirit. Be wary of charity scams which may appear to be for a good cause, but actually channel funds to the scammer. Before you donate, do your research! Scammers may be vague when you ask how your donation will be distributed and may even attempt to rush you to make a donation. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t donate. Don’t forget that online scams are consistently a threat. If you shop online, use trustworthy websites and do not save your credit card information in case your account is compromised. Also, make sure to create strong passwords which combine capital letters, numericals, and symbols to protect yourself from hackers.
There is nothing more important to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office than protecting our citizens, but the best way to prevent crime is by working together. Make safety your priority so that this holiday season is sure to be merry and bright.
Mike Prendergast is sheriff for Citrus County.