December 11, 2017

Like most of us, criminals truly love the holiday season. But they love this time of year not because they are filled with the spirit or sentimental family memories. The holiday season is open season as far as criminals are concerned

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, thefts, burglaries and property crimes greatly increase. Every year we hear stories of thieves stealing Christmas trees and decorations, children’s gifts from cars and homes, and armed robbers sticking up holiday shoppers.

With Christmas just a few weeks’ away criminals are out on the prowl, targeting your home, your car — and authorities say — even you.

There are several reasons that holiday crime rates increase, with the following reasons being the most common:

  • Increased emotions. Some people are very unhappy during the holidays. Domestic violence often increases during the holiday season. Consumption of alcohol also increases violent acts such as aggravated assault or rape. Strong emotions can cause people to act erratically.

    • Increased theft. The pressure to give gifts for the holidays often causes people to resort to theft or personal assault for cash.

Criminals are already aware that homes are filled with loot this time of year — jewelry, televisions, smart phones and computers. People tend to put their beautifully decorated Christmas trees — and all the gift packages stacked beneath them — right at the front of the living room.

Police solve only about 13% of reported burglaries and do not recover all the goods even when they do nab the criminals. You can take some precautionary actions to prevent your home from being broken into:

  • Don’t leave merchandise in your vehicles or visible in a storefront overnight or over the weekend. Thieves will jump at the opportunity to steal your property.
  • Be sure to keep an eye out for cars following you home; thieves might spot you in the parking lot and then find out where you live so they can break into your house. 

Needless to say, consumers generally walk around with more cash, credit cards, and gift cards in their wallets during this time of the year – rendering them as prime targets for criminals. Unfortunately, women and the elderly are at the highest risk. Criminals view these individuals as the least likely to fight back.

FBI supervisory special agent Peter Jurack said criminals tend to grow increasingly desperate during the weeks before the holidays. And there’s another factor at work: “In December, it’s easier to mask your identity,” he said. “It’s normal to be walking around in a winter coat or bulky clothes.”

  • It’s easy to be distracted, but you should always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Thieves, working in teams, will bump into you to distract you as they steal from your purse or wallet.
  • Shop with someone else. Have security walk you to your car. If uncomfortable with the situation, go back inside of the store.
  • When shopping, know your route. Know where you parked, and have your hands free when coming out of the store, with keys in hand. If you are leaving one business and going to another, make sure to keep gifts in the trunk or out of plain sight.
  • If someone does confront you, then comply with their demands and be a good witness. If you can, try and remember what they look like, if they have tattoos, or what they were wearing so you can give police a description that may lead to an arrest.
  • Gun owners can be prepared and ready to defend themselves and their loved ones. Make sure your concealed carry permit is up to date and that you are carrying everyday.

While no time of the year is completely safe, there are steps you can take to help ensure you are not a victim this holiday season.