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Holidays may bring holiday crime

Ken Kleinlein

Ken Klein­lein

By Ken Kleinlein

Crime Scene 

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – Dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, shop­pers are out in large num­bers buy­ing gifts for fam­ily and friends. Crim­i­nals also need money dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son and look toward law-abiding folks to get it.

Don’t make it easy for them.

Law enforce­ment steps up patrols and con­cen­trates spe­cial atten­tion to areas known to be sus­cep­ti­ble to hol­i­day crime. In Decem­ber 2014, the Sara­sota Sheriff’s Office affected 13 arrests of an orga­nized gang of thieves and shoplifters in a hol­i­day retail theft operation.

Don’t become a vic­tim. Take steps to coun­ter­act crim­i­nal behavior:

  • Keep the doors and win­dows in your home and autos locked and acti­vate alarms. Do not leave valu­able items in plain sight.
  • Keep keys and credit cards sep­a­rate and carry only small amounts of cash.
  • If you use a purse, carry it close to your body like a book. Do not hold it by the straps or over your shoulder.
  • Don’t show large amounts of cash or big bills.
  • Use ATM machines in well-lit and pop­u­lated areas.
  • Con­sol­i­date pack­ages using a shop­ping bag.
  • Do not shop until exhausted; you are not alert then.
  • Park strate­gi­cally as close to a shop­ping mall as pos­si­ble. There is safety in num­bers, try to leave before clos­ing time.
  • If pos­si­ble, use an escort or mall secu­rity when leav­ing at clos­ing time when peo­ple are sparse.
  • Be alert when return­ing to your auto, thieves lurk between, under, and inside vehi­cles. Be wary of vans parked next to or near your car.
  • Never leave your hand­bag in a shop­ping cart to go an another isle search­ing for articles.
  • Crooks bump your auto and when you get out to check for dam­age they steal your purse or valuables.
  • When return­ing home have your keys in your hand to ensure quick entry. If you observe sus­pi­cious indi­vid­u­als loi­ter­ing near your house do not stop. Go to a friend’s home or a well lighted area. After a period of time if they are still there call 911.
  • Don’t buy from street ven­dors who are here today and gone tomorrow.
  • Be alert for bogus char­i­ties that seem to pop up dur­ing Christ­mas time. Check them out with the State Divi­sion of Con­sumer Ser­vices at the Busi­ness Com­plaint Lookup (800 435‑7352).
  • Watch out for the “phony employee scam.” They approach you out­side a store pos­ing as employ­ees and offer lower prices for items in the store for cash. They take your money, enter the store and are never seen again.
  • When at work secure your purse and valuables.
  • Never give your social secu­rity num­ber, credit card, bank­ing infor­ma­tion, or other sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion to indi­vid­u­als promis­ing spe­cial deals.
  • Lastly, do not fight with a purse-snatcher or any­one com­mit­ting or attempt­ing to com­mit a rob­bery by force. If the thief is that des­per­ate resis­tance could lead to injury or even death. Get a good descrip­tion of the per­pe­tra­tors and pro­vide it to law enforcement.

Lis­ten to your instincts, use com­mon sense, be alert and aware of your sur­round­ings and of indi­vid­u­als in the area.

◊◊◊

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Con­gress­man Vern Buchanan (Dis­trict 16), named chair­man of the Ways and Means Subcommittee.

Hope every­one had a won­der­ful Thanks­giv­ing. I wish you all a Merry Christ­mas, Happy Hanukkah, a safe hol­i­day sea­son, and a happy and healthy New Year.

Take care, be care­ful, and I’ll see you at the next Crime Scene.

God bless and pro­tect our mil­i­tary, law enforce­ment, fire fight­ers, and EMT’s.

Ken Klein­lein is a for­mer NYPD spe­cial frauds squad detec­tive coor­di­nat­ing with local, state, and fed­eral law enforce­ment along with accred­ited secu­rity com­pa­nies on mat­ters of crime pre­ven­tion and pub­lic information.

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