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Safety During the Holiday Season

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Holiday shopping

The holiday season brings lots of joy - and, unfortunately, an uptick in crime. Be sure to remain aware of your surroundings and stay safe this holiday season.

The holiday season brings light spirits and joyous times. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when police departments see an uptick in criminal activity. While you’re in the holiday spirit, continue to be vigilant and protect yourself while out and about this holiday season. We’ve rounded up some safety reminders to keep in mind: 

Criminal activity around the holidays
It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings, especially during the busy holiday season, when we’re often more distracted. 

Chief Ray Schultz from Memorial Villages Police Department reminded the community of “jugging” offenses in his latest “Chief’s Weekly Report” email blast to Memorial neighbors. 

“Jugging are crimes where the suspect monitors banks or ATMs, watching for someone to make a large cash withdraw,” he said. “The suspect then follows the victim from the bank and when the victim stops to park, they either break into the car, snatch a purse, or rob the victim.”

Some suspects will also follow the victim across town, waiting for the perfect opportunity to commit their crime. To protect yourself from “jugging” offenses, scan your surroundings before exiting the bank and getting into your vehicle. Take notice of anyone who might follow you into the bank and then leave behind you without conducting any business themselves. If you notice that you are being followed, head to the closest police station. 

Memorial Villages Police Department is also working to stop “slider crimes.”

MVPD

The Memorial Villages Police Department recently created these signs as a reminder to be vigilant while pumping gas, as gas stations are common targets for slider crimes. Pictured: Detective Blair Cerny installing a sign at a local gas station. (Photo courtesy of MVPD)

“Slider crimes occur when a driver leaves their car unlocked, usually while pumping gas. A thief slides into the car and steals items – and sometimes the entire vehicle – then jumps into an accomplice's car and flees the scene,” according to the MVPD detectives. To protect yourself from “slider crimes,” lock your doors, roll up your windows, and keep your valuables close by.

Car thief can be particularly distressing because this kind of theft can then lead to identity theft and fraud. To prevent vehicle burglaries, the West University police department has a list of suggestions. They also have suggestions on how to deal with identify theft and scams.

Finally, the Bellaire Police Department is using their social media to share holiday safety tips for the entire week. Follow along here to get daily safety tips this entire week.

Safe Shopping
“I love this time of year. But consider. You are busier than normal. You will spend more than normal, which means you have credit cards and probably more cash in your wallet….” wrote Rania Mankarious, executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston in a 2016 Buzz holiday article.

In the busyness of the holiday season, whether you’re out shopping on Black Friday, making returns in-person, or just enjoying holiday festivities, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. Keep in mind these tips from Rania: 

  • Think concentration, not location. Park in a concentrated area, even if it’s a farther walk. Choose a busy part of the lot with pedestrians and good lighting.
  • When you park, the way you pull in matters. Think about where you have more visibility when you open your car door and park accordingly.
  • Think about what you wear when you shop. Leave priceless, sentimental jewelry and expensive clothes and accessories at home when you go to shop. 
  • The phone issue. It’s so tempting to walk while scrolling on our phones. But this can make us targets for criminals. Remember to bee attentive and make eye contact with those around you rather than being engrossed in our phones.
  • Walk intentionally. Shop in peak hours. Don’t be paranoid but be vigilant. Criminals want easy targets. Be aware and stay alert.

Vacation House Watch Programs

Vacation House Watch

If you’re heading out of town for vacation, don’t forget about neighborhood Vacation House Watch programs; police will patrol your homes while you're away. 

If you are headed out of town this holiday season, there are programs in which police will patrol your house while you’re away. Southside Place and the cities of Houston, Bellaire, and West U have Vacation House Watch programs.

Coffee with a Cop
Coffee with a Cop gives Bellaire residents a chance to meet with police officers and interact one-on-one. Guests can talk with the officers that patrol the city and discuss community issues and get to know the police department better. Coffee with a Cop events are monthly and information about each event is posted on Bellaire Police Department's Facebook page.

Wishing you a safe and joyful holiday season!

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