Watertown— Now that the festive season is upon us with only 4 days until Christmas, crime rates are on the rise. According to the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, folks are more vulnerable around the holiday season.
According to New York State Trooper Sara Vandusen, the North Country has had a high rate of petty larceny cases. Although not as high of an incident rate this holiday season, home robberies are still a concern. “Most of the crimes are caused from drug user needing cash to buy drugs. We literally had drug addicts walk into the local Wal-Mart or Target and try to wheel out a 42 inch television”, said Vandusen. She went on to explain that usually drug users will take the television, sell it on Craigslist or some online platform for quick cash.
Trooper Vandusen explained that if you are purchasing a gift from some online platform, it is often better to buy gifts from reliable venders. During the holidays people are more vulnerable because they want to buy something on sale or they are looking for a good deal. Often times, they are purchasing things from Craigslist and have no idea they just purchased a stolen item.
Having worked with home robberies, Trooper Vandusen explained that there are some ways you can protect yourself. “If it is an expensive electronic item, take down the serial number or better yet, take a picture of the serial number and the item”, said Vandusen. According to Trooper Vandusen, serial numbers and pictures of the stolen item makes it easier for law enforcement officials to track down your property and return it to you.
Trooper Vandusen continued to stress having renters or homeowners insurance in case of a robbery. However, women are subject to getting their purse stolen or snatched from them while walking to their car or walking alone. The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office produced some valuable safety tips for concerned folks. According to the Sheriff's Department, these safety tips are here to prepare you for a more enjoyable and confident holiday experience.
· When walking through parking lots, be aware of your surroundings.
· Always park where there is plenty of light between your car and the store.
· Keep your car locked and have your keys in hand before you go to your car.
· Before leaving your vehicle, make sure there isn’t anything of value in sight, including cell phones, GPS units, and holiday purchases.
· Shop with a friend or relatives; there is safety in numbers.
· Don’t leave your purse unattended (even for a few seconds) in your cart.
· Don’t carry large amounts of money. Keep money in a front pocket.
· Only carry one or two credit cards and make sure you secure them after use.
· If shopping online, stick with established retailers and retailers from our local community with a presence online. Shopping locally is good for the local economy and more secure.
Shopping with Children:
· Always supervise your children in public places. Accompany young children to the restroom.
· Teach young children to go for help if they get separated from you. Teach them to look for a cashier or uniformed security guard.
· If you must allow your teenage children to shop without you, have them take a friend, check in with you on a regular basis, and have a set time and place to pick them up.
· Don’t display your gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
· Lock doors and windows when you leave the house.
· Use only UL-listed extension cords, lights and Christmas ornaments. Don’t overload outlets or electrical boxes.
· When celebrating away from home, don’t drink and drive.
· Choose a designated driver before heading out.
· If hosting a party, provide refreshments for designated drivers and arrange transportation for guests who should not drive home.
· If possible, avoid driving during the early and late evening hours on Christmas and New Years.
· Protect yourself and passengers by wearing a safety belt at all times, in case of a crash.
Please remember that if you are a victim of crime, you should contact your Sheriff’s Office or other law enforcement immediately. If we all follow these common sense tips, we can enjoy a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season.