With the holiday preparations and New Year’s celebration plans beginning to take shape, residents will once again be getting busy with shopping, and family & work gatherings. The Dearborn Heights Police Department urges residents to exercise caution and common sense this holiday season.
“It’s a busy time of year for everyone, but it’s particularly important to stay safe as they go about their holiday activities” Police Chief Jerrod Hart said. “This is a great time of year with all the get-togethers with family and friends. But it’s still important to keep personal safety in mind.
“One of the most important issues we want to remind residents of, particularly during this time of year, is that alcohol consumption and driving simply do not mix. If your holiday or New Year’s celebration plans include alcohol, please give your keys to a designated driver who hasn’t been drinking.
“Alcohol in even small quantities will impair your driving ability. It’s not worth the risk of endangering yourself, a loved one, or an innocent stranger by driving impaired.”
Hart said the Police Department, like state, county and other local law enforcement agencies, will have plenty of officers out on the roads over the holidays enforcing the area’s zero-tolerance policy toward alcohol consumption and driving.
“And not only are you endangering peoples’ lives, but you are putting yourself at risk for some serious fines, possible jail time, the potential for the temporary loss of your drivers’ license, and almost certainly some hefty increases in your vehicle insurance rates for a long time to come,” Hart said. “It’s just not worth it.”
Hart also urged the public to exercise caution during their holiday shopping.
“Even though you are rushed and thinking about a hundred different things, stay alert to your surroundings,” he said. “Pay attention to what’s going on around you. This is prime time for pickpockets, purse snatchers, and con artists – particularly in malls and shopping centers.”
Hart suggested some common-sense steps that will help reduce the likelihood of becoming a target:
• Dress casually and comfortably.
• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
• If possible, avoid carrying large purses or wallets. If you do carry one, be extra careful. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit. Keep them fastened, and stored in a front seat pocket if you are traveling in any type of public transportation.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and keep the cash you do carry in your front pocket. When paying, keep your cash out of sight from others as much as possible.
• When possible, pay for purchases with a check or credit card.
• Notify your credit card issuer immediately if your card is lost, stolen or misused.
• Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
• 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.
• Shop with a friend – particularly during the evening hours.
• Park in well-lit spaces where there is plenty of traffic and activity. If something doesn’t look just right — like people loitering in the parking lot — trust your judgment and park somewhere else. Keep your vehicle’s windows shut and doors locked at all times.
• Store packages or other valuables (GPS devices, iPods, tablets, etc.) in your vehicle’s truck or out of sight. Articles left in plain sight on seats are an inviting target for thieves.
• When you return to your vehicle, have your keys in hand and ready, so you don’t have to fumble for them. Also, take a moment to check the interior of the car before you get in.
• If you are shopping with small children, make sure they understand to seek a security guard or store clerk if you become separated.
Hart also urges the public to use care in and around the home during the holidays, and offers a few tips to help reduce the chance your home will be the target of a home invasion:
• Keep doors and windows locked – whether you are outside for just a few minutes, or even while you’re in the basement.
• While you’re out, leave some lights and a radio or television on. Your house will appear occupied and a less likely target for break-in.
• Keep packages and gifts out of sight from windows and doors as much as possible.
• Be wary of solicitors coming to your door and asking for charitable donations. Instead, help the charitable organizations you are familiar with.
• Keep in touch with your neighbors, and watch out for each other. If something doesn’t look right in your neighborhood — such as strangers hanging out near a friend’s home — don’t hesitate to call the police.
• Keep your vehicle doors locked, whether parked in the street or in your driveway – and do not leave valuable items in plain sight, especially overnight.
Hart also urges Dearborn Heights residents who are vacationing over the holidays to take advantage of the Police Department’s “Vacation Check” program.
“All the resident needs to do is give us a call and give us some basic information” he said. “All we need is the address, the dates they’ll be out of town, and a contact number where someone can be reached if needed. We’ll send an officer to the residence periodically for a brief check around the outside for any signs of disturbance.”
This is a free service offered to residents of Dearborn Heights.
Hart said that while there is no absolute or foolproof way to protect yourself, your family, home or your possessions, taking a few common-sense steps will help reduce the risk greatly.