Clifton Council Corner: Christmas holiday safety

By Felix Callicotte

The Christmas season is always a special time of year. It is also a time when people become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime. We can never be too careful, too prepared or too aware. Please share this information with family, friends and neighbors.

At Home

  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.

  • When leaving home have a family member or neighbor watch your house. Notify the Clifton Police Department if you are planning an extended absence. They will perform a security patrol for your home.

  • Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.

  • Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.

  • Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and/or doors of your home.

  • When using lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring can cause a fire.

  • Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.
  • Be sure your Christmas tree is in a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves.

Shopping

  • Go shopping with a friend. There is safety in numbers.
  • Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Purses hanging down by your side become an attractive target. A fanny pack can be used instead of a purse. Keep wallets in a front or inside pocket.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card, when possible.

  • When arriving at your intended destination, where do you park? You should park your vehicle in a location that is highly visible, close to an entrance, and in an area, that will remain well-lit after dark.

  • When leaving your vehicle, always make sure it is completely secured.

  • When returning to your vehicle, check the area for people that seem to be loitering. If someone or something does not seem right or is suspicious, do not go to your vehicle. Return to the business and request they contact law enforcement to check the area.

  • Place packages inside the trunk. If this is not possible, place them on the floorboard and cover them. Never leave packages inside the passenger compartment of your vehicle that are visible to people walking by. If it catches your eye, it will also catch a potential thief’s eye.

  • Look inside your car and around it as you approach and before entering. This process takes only a couple of seconds. Have your car or house key in your hand as you approach. If attacked those keys can be used as a defense tool.

Safe Online Shopping

Use Familiar Web Sites: Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can get rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links.

Look for the Lock: The URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// ~ Never ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed.

• Do Not Tell All: No online shopping store is going to need your social security number or your birthday to do business.

Protect Your Computer: You need to protect against malware, Trojan horses with regular updates to your anti-virus program.

• Use Strong Passwords: Be sure to utilize uncrackable passwords. Use a mixture of capital letters, lower case letters, numerals and special characters. It is very important to have a strong password when banking and/or shopping on line.

Privatize Your Wi-Fi: Only use the wireless connection if you access the Web over a virtual private network (VPN) connection. It is not a good time to try out a hotspot you are unfamiliar with. Stick to the known networks, even if they are free, like those found at Starbucks.

What’s Too Good to Be True ~ Is usually True: Those “Offers” can come via social media. Beware even of your friends, who might innocently forward such an offer. Skepticism goes a long way toward saving you from a stolen card number or identity theft.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

  • If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a bank, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash 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

Pet Safety

  • Aromatic Candles or potpourri may kill pet birds which have sensitive respiratory systems. Candles are also a fire hazard.

  • Poinsettias are unlikely to kill a pet, though they are not exactly healthy eating. Fresh lilies can be lethal. Keep these plants out of reach of your pets.

  • Chocolate and nuts might make pets sick, especially chocolate. Macadamia nuts can make dogs sick and even cause temporary paralysis.

  • Kittens and cats love shiny baubles and tend to eat tinsel or ribbon. Dangling ornaments are also tempting toys. Make sure your tree is solidly anchored to prevent tipping.

We have left this Holiday Safety Tip for last:

No, you are not paranoid; they really are out to get you. If you plan to drink during this up-coming holiday season and get behind the wheel of a vehicle, the Clifton Police Department is determined to get you off the road.

Yes, there will be more police patrols on our streets and highways during this time of the year. There may be one of those annoying checkpoints and on top of that, remember that almost everyone has a cell phone now and can report erratic driving instantly.

The best way to avoid the increased patrols and checkpoints is to not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking. However, if you do drink and drive and you get caught, you are in for a lot of legal headaches.

Our advice: Do not drink and drive!

Crime Prevention Watch:

CALL THE CLIFTON POLICE DEPARTMENT or the GREENLEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity at the below telephone numbers:

Clifton Police Department: Emergency 911, 928-865-4145 or 928-865-4566

Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office: Emergency 911, or 928-865-4149

CrimeWatch Silent Witness: 928-865-1062

You can be the eyes and remember you can always remain anonymous!

The Town of Clifton wishes all a Safe, Happy and Peaceful Christmas.

Posted in Government.