It only takes a second to snatch a purse

Chief Jeff Insley says use caution
Dec. 13, 2012 @ 02:36 PM

The holiday season is a time of shopping, cooking and traveling with Christmas dinners, trips to the mall and New Year’s Eve parties.
Over the next couple of weeks, law enforcement agencies urge citizens to take a few extra precautions. From being mindful of a purse to locking a car door, there is a host of simple steps people can follow to avoid a break-in or  theft.
“People just need to be a bit more vigilant this time of year,” said Capt. Mark Kattner with Thomasville Police Department. “People often have more money than usual on them and are often in crowded places. Be aware of your surroundings.”
While shopping, women should keep their purse close and avoid leaving it unattended on a cart. Kattner said it only takes a few seconds for a thief to snatch a purse and disappear into the crowd. Always lock a vehicle when going from store to store and never leave gifts in plain sight. Kattner recommends putting everything in the trunk instead of the back seat, even at home. If a Christmas tree is near window, don’t put out all the presents before the big day.
“A lot of people like to put a bunch of presents under the tree before Christmas,” said Kattner. “If someone is looking through your window, seeing a pile of presents may be attractive.”
If a trip is in the plans, Sheriff David Grice recommends making sure a neighbor or family member has proper contact information in case of an emergency. People are urged not to advertise trips on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Empty homes should be checked daily by a neighbor. Mail or newspapers should be picked up so it appears as if someone is at home.
“People like to get on Facebook and talk about where they are planning to go and it’s probably not the best idea,” Grice said. “The less people who know you’re not going to be home is probably the better. Try to make sure your house looks lived in if you‘re out traveling.”
When shopping at a big store, avoid parking in unlighted, isolated spaces and walk out with another person if possible.
Grice said there is a slight rise in home break-ins during the holiday season and large, congested parking lots increase the chances of one’s vehicle broken into.
“Try not to get into a hurry,” said Grice. “Watch your pocketbooks and remember to lock your car. These are basic things people can do. You probably don’t need to have all your money in one place if possible.”
Grice also wants citizens to be extra conscience of fire hazards like unattended candles or food cooking on a stove.
For those planning on going for Christmas or New Year’s Eve parties, Kattner reminds people not to drink and drive. A Booze & Lose It campaign currently is under wayand Kattner said law enforcement will be out looking for drunk drivers.

Thomasville Police Department Tips
• If your Christmas tree is in front of a window, don’t display gifts.
• Don’t post on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a descriptive message on a telephone answering machine, that you will be out of town. Have neighbors or family pick up your newspapers and mail
• Break down merchandise boxes or cut them up.
• Shop before dark if possible. Never park in an unlit lot or area.
• Beware of your surroundings and strangers who may try various methods to district you.
• Keep money and credit cards concealed.
• Carry a purse under your arm.
• Keep wallet in an inside jacket pocket.
• Have your keys readily accessible before you go to your car.
• Don’t overload yourself with boxes or bags.
• Put boxes or bags in the trunk.
• Scan the interior of your car to be sure no one is hiding inside.
• Never drink and drive.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.