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Ross Township Police: Holiday Shopping and Safety

The number of property crimes increase greatly in Ross Township between Black Friday and the Christmas holidays.

The following information is provided by the Ross Township Police Department:

Ross Township statistically is a very safe community.  That being said, crime occurs everywhere, in every town and city no matter how large or small.  Most of our incidents are property crime.  The number of property crimes increases greatly between Black Friday and continue straight through to January.  Even honest people will not let their children go without presents, and some do desperate things they normally would not. 

A few tip to keep you and your property safe, especially when you’re out in the shopping mall frenzy. 

LOCKS --- USE THEM.

Lock your car.  Lock your house. 

During the holiday season, honest people shop inside the mall. Dishonest people shop outside in the parking lot.

If you are using your vehicle for storage and going back into the mall, look around.  Are you being followed or watched? A thief may watch you place items in your car and wait for you to walk away.  Be observant.

  • Hide your packages.  Use your trunk.
  • Many of us now have an SUV with no trunk.  Take a blanket and place the packages on the rear floor covering them with the blanket.  If your cargo area has a cover, use it.
  • Thieves will break windows if they see something inside they want.
  • Lock the doors - - - ALWAYS. No exceptions. 

PERSONAL PROTECTION IN PARKING LOTS 

Suspects look for specific victims. Suspects focus on people who are unaware or unprepared. Whether you are driving or walking to your vehicle, you can significantly increase your personal safety and reduce the risk of becoming a victim with the proper attitude. The attitude you convey while in or approaching your vehicle can effect a potential attackers decision to victimize you. Walk and drive purposefully, with confidence. Give the appearance that you are totally aware of your surroundings. Be aware of what is going on around you. Watch the people and the surroundings. Street criminals prefer to avoid people displaying this demeanor.  

Most parking lot crimes depend on the car owner being inattentive to their surroundings. Thieves prefer the element of surprise. Most victims say they never saw the thief or purse snatcher until they appeared at their car. To reduce your risk of being a victim of crime, here are some common sense steps:

Arriving at the parking lot

  • If you are unfamiliar with the parking lot, drive through it and check it first. If you do not feel safe, go elsewhere or wait for someone else to arrive.
  • Have a plan rehearsed in your head of what you will do in the event of an attack. You need to be prepared.
  • Wear shoes and clothing that will not hinder an escape. Sneakers are best and shoes with low heels are your second best. Wear these types of shoes when you shop.
  • Avoid parking near the side of vans that has the slide open doors. Don't park in isolated or visually obstructed areas near walls or heavy foliage.
  • Always park in well-lighted areas, if you plan to arrive or leave after dark.
  • Back into the space if possible.
  • Always carefully note where you parked so you don't spend unnecessary time walking around a parking lot.
  • If you are still uneasy try to use valet parking or a garage that has an attendant on duty. 

Returning to your vehicle

  • Walk to your vehicle in pairs or in a group if possible.
  • Ask for an escort to your car by security or a store employee if you feel uneasy.
  • As you walk to your car be alert to persons sitting in cars.
  • Watch out for suspicious persons loitering in the area.
  • Turn around. Look behind you – Keep your head on a swivel.
  • Do not become distracted. DO NOT USE THE CELL PHONE. You look distracted and unaware or your surroundings while on the phone ESPECIALLY WHEN TEXTING!
  • If someone tries to approach, change direction or walk to a store.
  • Follow your instincts. Listen to your 6th sense if it tells you to walk or run away do so.
  • Have your keys in your hand so you are not searching for them while you walk. Keep vehicle key separate from other keys. Attach a whistle with the vehicle key.  Use your FOB if you can.
  • As you approach your car, look under and around it. Before getting in your car look in the back seat and on the floor.
  • Do not turn your back when placing items inside the car or trunk. Look around frequently.
  • When you enter your vehicle, lock all the doors and turn on your headlights. This will allow you to see anyone outside in the dark.
  • Start the vehicle and drive away immediately. Limit the amount of time you spend sitting in the car.
  • If you are accosted, do anything you can to draw attention. Don't be embarrassed. Scream, yell or blow your whistle. Honk the car horn.  Make noise!
  • If you carry a purse, don't dangle it by your side so that a thief can run by you and grab it. Carry your purse close to your body, preferably in front.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money and unnecessary credit cards.
  • Do not wear flashy jewelry that will attract attention.  Christmas shopping is not a fashion statement!
  • If an armed criminal ever confronts you don’t resist. Give up your purse or money if demanded without resistance.

Some other items that are very important to remember

  • Do not leave your purse unattended In a shopping cart
  • In a fitting room
  • Hanging on a chair back in a restaurant
  • Never leave your purse unzipped and the wallet exposed
  • Do not carry credit cards you do not need
  • Do not carry your social security card

Other things not related to crime, but you need to remember

  • Water your Christmas tree every day
  • Watch candles
  • Don’t overload electric circuits
  • Watch the stove while cooking
  • When frying outdoors – move the frying unit away from the house
  • Have working smoke detectors – When is the last time you checked the batteries?

After Christmas

OK, now the big day has come and gone and it is trash day.

Do not put boxes on the curb that contained electrical or high value items.

As that box sits on your curb every person, including burglars that pass your house know what you got for Christmas, and that it is sitting inside your house waiting to be stolen.

Cut the box up and put it in black trash bags.

And always, please don't drink and drive.

If want to learn more, the Ross Police department, in cooperation with Commissioner Lana Mazur, will hold a Crime Prevention Meeting on Monday, Nov. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Board of Commissioners meeeting room at the Ross Municipal Center.

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