Never allow yourself to become vulnerable to holiday crime
The 2015 Festive Season is upon us and at this time of the year, finance gurus will be consistently and continuously issuing stern warnings to consumers to cut back on their cravings to spend their hard-earned money, in line with the tough economic climate we are facing. They will also allude to the perils of falling into such temptations.
As these finance gurus attempt to save us from sinking further into debt, it is also the responsibility of the South African Police Service to further accentuate their warning to South Africans against the dangers of this period as we enter the festive season. The SAPS’s top management, led by the Acting National Commissioner, General Khomotso Phahlane, seeks to remind us that while the festive season exudes joy and excitement, this period also breeds sophisticated criminals armed with the latest scams and technology to extort our hard-earned money.
Mindful of this, as the police, we endeavour to provide you with safety tips we have compiled to ensure that citizens are ahead of criminals. We have assembled the following holiday safety tips, which are aimed at contributing to the safety and security of people during the holiday season.
- Avoid driving alone or at night.
- Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
- If you must shop at night, park in a well-lit area.
- Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells or cars with tinted windows.
- Park as close as you can to your destination and remember where you parked.
- Never leave your car unoccupied with the engine running or with children inside it.
- Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This is a big temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
- Be sure to locate your keys before going to your car.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
- Ask the mall or shop security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM)
- If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a police station, mall or well-lit location. Withdraw only the amount of cash that you need.
- Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.
- Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.
- Shop during daylight hours if it is possible. If you must shop at night, ensure that a friend or family member accompanies you.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewellery.
- Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.
- Always carry your driver’s licence or identification card along with the necessary cash, cheques and/or a credit card at all times.
- Even though you are in a rush and thinking about a thousand things, be aware of your surroundings.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Pay for purchases with a cheque or credit card, if it is possible.
- Keep cash in your front pocket.
- Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.
- Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
- Be extra careful if you carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
- If it is at all possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter.
- Teach your child to go to a shop clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you.
- Teach children to stay close to you at all times while you are shopping.
- Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.
- Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car.
- Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.
When you are at home
- be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.
- and you leave it for an extended time, have a neighbour or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
- indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
- leave a radio or television on so that the house looks and sounds occupied.
- large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
When there are strangers at your door
- be aware that criminals sometimes pose as courier services who are delivering gifts.
- it is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes even though no charity is
- ask them to produce identification and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate. Donate to a recognized charitable organization.
When you host a party
- have non-alcoholic beverages available for party guests.
- find alternative transportation for intoxicated guests.
- arrange for an official designated driver for your party, who will not drink at all.
When you attend a party
- have something to eat before consuming alcoholic beverages.
- eat foods that are high in protein, will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system.
- remember only time will eliminate the alcohol from your body.
- know your limit.
- never drink and drive.
“Remember, as you have been industrious during the year and have worked hard for your money, you must ensure that during this year’s holiday season, you do not easily give way to criminals by not adhering to, and becoming careless and vulnerable to holiday crime. Despite the tips we have provided above, we can never be too careful or too prepared, but by observing these tips, we may avoid becoming victims. Have a happy holiday season,” said General Phahlane.
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