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Winter break holiday safety message

Another winter is upon us and so comes the holiday season. Thefts are more frequent during the holidays, in part because of increased opportunity. Whether you are staying on campus, staying at home, or leaving town for winter break, please follow these tips in order to have a safe holiday season.

Increase your awareness of suspicious persons and situations. Always be aware of your surroundings when at home, work or shopping. If you have an uneasy feeling about a situation, get out of it. If necessary, contact your local police department by dialing 911, or if you are on campus, contact the Towson University Police Department at 410-704-4444.

Don’t talk on a cell phone when walking through parking lots and streets. Talking on your cell phone can be a distraction that makes you vulnerable to criminal activity and being struck by vehicular traffic. Keep your full attention on your surroundings. Also, your cell phone itself can be a tempting target to thieves. Download cell phone trackers. There are plenty available for Android and iPhones.

When going shopping, don’t take more cash or credit cards than you think you will need. If possible, do not shop along and let someone know your shopping itinerary. Always keep your purse within your grasp (not dangling by the strap) and carry your cash or wallet in your front pants pocket to avoid pickpocket. Avoid overloading yourself with too many packages at one time, limiting your ability to walk or run. Carry packages to your vehicle and place them in the trunk and then continue shopping. You should have your keys in your hand when approaching the vehicle. Don’t leave anything of value visible in the vehicle.

Beware of Purse Snatchers. Thieves look forward to holidays as much as everyone else. The Baltimore County Police Department asks shoppers to beware of purse snatchers; women carrying pocketbooks are easy prey. The thieves know that during the holidays, shoppers are distracted and are not as careful as they should be when out.

Don’t let “porch pirates” steal your holiday presents.   If possible, have your package delivered to a location where it can be received by a trusted person.  Ask neighbors who are home during the day to watch for deliveries. Request the shipping company to hold the packages at their facility for pickup. Track deliveries online and confirm delivery. Insure valuable items, and provide delivery instructions so packages are left out of sight from the street.

Lock the doors and windows of your vehicle, office, home, apartment and/or residence hall before you leave. Many opportunistic criminals simply look for unlocked doors and windows, so make sure to lock your door even if you’re only leaving for a minute. Avoid displaying presents or other valuable items in areas visible from a window or doorway, and conceal all valuables in a trunk or closet area. If you are leaving your house unoccupied for several days, have lights on a timer so that they switch on and off throughout the night.

Have personal electronics engraved to increase chances of recovery after theft. This service is a deterrent and helps the police identify ownership of property when stolen goods are recovered. Engravers are available from the University Police at no charge.

When going to parties or family functions, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. If you drink, make certain you have a safe ride home via a designated driver or public transportation. When driving be extra attentive since the roads will be more crowded than normal. Remember to always wear your seat belts.

If you see someone or something that looks suspicious, contact the local police, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For more crime prevention tips, contact the TUPD’s Community Outreach Office at 410-704-5622 or go to  our website .

TUPD wishes you a safe and happy holiday season