County offers crime prevention tips
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 12:20

Advice to avoid seasonal crimes and scams

by Nicole Rodman

    With the holidays quickly approaching, the Baltimore County Police Department is offering tips to help residents avoid becoming crime victims this season.
    Overall, police stress that staying alert and aware of one’s surroundings is the best way to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
    “Every good police officer is trained to read the environment,” Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson noted on the police department website. “Likewise, you should ask yourself questions when you are out and about.”
   

To this end, citizens are discouraged from talking on cell phones, as distracted victims make the easiest prey.
    While shopping this holiday season, police urge citizens to walk and park in well-lit areas. Shoppers should park as close to the entrance as possible.
    Police also remind shoppers to avoid flashing large amounts of cash and, if possible, to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
    If a purse is used, it should be held close to the body to avoid theft.
    Wallets should be kept in a front pants pocket or in an inside coat pocket.
    When using an automatic teller machine, citizens are encouraged to use machines in high-traffic areas and have their card ready prior to reaching the machine.
    There are also a number of tips for residents to follow to keep vehicles safe and secure this season.
    Police recommend having car keys in hand and ready to use upon approaching the car.
    Car doors should be locked any time the car is left unattended. Residents should also lock the car door as soon as they get in.
    When leaving a vehicle unattended, care should be taken to avoid leaving valuables in plain view inside the vehicle.
    If valuables must be left inside the car, police recommend covering them or storing them in the trunk,
    To avoid becoming a victim of crime at home, citizens should always lock doors and windows, even if only away for a short time.
    Residents going away on an extended trip should try to make their home look occupied as a means of avoiding break-ins.
    Lights should be left on both inside and outside the house and arrangments should be made for mail to be picked up.
    Finally, police recommend that all expensive gifts and equipment be engraved with a driver’s license or Maryland identification card number.
    If an item is engraved, it could deter thieves from attempting to steal the item.
    Additionally, if the item is stolen and later recovered, engraving will allow police to return the item to the proper owner.
    Engraving equipment is available for county residents to use, free of charge, at police stations and public libraries.
    For more information, visit the web at www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/police/crimeprevention/holidaywinter.html.