‘Tis the season for shopping, and this weekend, many Harvey County residents likely will be hitting the stores to purchase holiday gifts for friends and family members on their list. However, Lieutenant Craig Dunlavy with the Newton Police Department cautions that thieves and scammers may be out and about, as well. To them, Christmas isn’t a season of giving — it’s a season when it’s all too easy to do some taking. “It always picks up this time of year,” Dunlavy said. “Every year it’s the same kind of activity.”
Shopping safety
While you’re in a store, don’t leave your purse sitting unattended in a cart. It’s far too easy for a thief to walk by and grab it — and it’s a type of crime that can be prevalent this time of year, Dunlavy said. Also be careful who you hand your credit card off to. Don’t let a cashier take your credit card out of your sight, and watch for other customers who may be paying a little too much attention to your transaction. “Just be aware of your surroundings,” he said. If you’re going to leave packages and shopping bags in your car, make sure to lock it, and cover or hide your items so they aren’t visible or easily identifiable to someone outside.
Home safety
It’s important to make sure your home is secure, as well. Be wary of putting empty boxes from expensive items such as smartphones, TVs and computers in your trash can. Thieves can see these boxes and know you’re planning to give or have given these items as gifts. If you do put the boxes in your trash can, make sure they are destroyed to the point they’re not recognizable. Talk to your neighbors if you plan to travel out of town for the holidays, and ask them to keep an eye on your house while you’re gone. Have them check your mail and pick up the paper so thieves will be less likely to know that you’re away from the house. Make sure to keep an eye on your neighbors’ homes too. “If there’s someone in the area that just doesn’t belong, we’d prefer that they just let us know,” Dunlavy said.
Financial safety
Watch out for scammers who may be trying to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays. Dunlavy said one of the most common scams he’s heard about lately is the “grandparent scam.” It’s a type of scam that has been going on throughout the year and involves a person calling and pretending to be a grandchild in need of help. The calls may be coming from overseas, and the “grandchild” may be asking their loved one to send money to them. Dunlavy said it’s important to verify if these calls are legitimate before sending money. While it’s wise to be vigilant during the holidays, Dunlavy said all of the above tips should be followed throughout the year.