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Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies offer safety tips for the holiday season.
As we begin the holiday season, the potential for thefts can become more frequent. With all the distractions the holiday season brings, sometimes we forget the basics about safety, no matter where we are. By staying alert and following a few crime-prevention tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look around, up ahead, and behind you before entering or exiting the safety and security of your vehicle or shopping mall.
Park in well lit, highly visible, and heavily trafficked areas of a parking lot or parking garage. Always try to park as close as you can to an entry or exit door of the shopping mall.
Be sure to lock your car! Double check that all car doors are locked and that the windows are rolled all the way up before you leave your car unattended. Engage your car's audible alarm system, if equipped.
When shopping at night, try to avoid going alone. Bring a friend or family member to come shopping with you.
- Teach your children to immediately go to an information desk, a front counter, or to try to find a store clerk, a security guard, or a law enforcement officer to help them in the event that they should ever become lost or separated from you while shopping.
Most importantly, always report any/all suspicious persons, vehicles, or activity you observe immediately to mall security and/or local law enforcement.
Package Theft Prevention Tips:
Be mindful of your purses and wallets. Keep purses held tight under your arm, not hanging off your shoulder or in a shopping cart. Keep wallets in an inside jacket pocket or front pants pocket.
Avoid carrying excessive amounts of cash or credit cards. Take only what you need for your purchases. Keep the records and card numbers of all of your credit cards in a secure location, should you ever need them to report them lost or stolen.
Don't overburden yourself when carrying out bags or packages to the car. Always store and secure any items of value, purchases, or packages in the trunk of your car. Keep them out sight!
- When leaving the shopping mall, always have your keys in your hand, ready to go. That way you can enter your car as quickly as possible. Also, in the event of an emergency, you can activate you car's audible alarm via the "panic button" on your key chain, if equipped.
Individuals looking for crimes of opporunity are at an increase during the holiday season. Thieves have been known to follow delivery trucks and target homes after a delivery has just been made. If you're shopping online, you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim of package theft by following these simple tips:
Always immediately report any/all suspicious behavior in your neighborhood to non-emergency dispatch at 813/247-8200. In the event of an emergency or a crime-in-progress, please dial 911.
- Have the package delivered to your workplace or to a trusted neighbor or relative who is more likely to home.
- Choose a shipping option that requires for you to sign for delivery or track the delivery status online, so you can make arrangements to be home.
- Another option would be to ask the shipping company to hold your package for customer pick-up at their local facility.
- If you do not receive your shipment on time, track your package to confirm delivery.
- Another option is to deliver your packages to a retail store or locker, where they'll stay safe until you can pick them up at your convenience. Many retailers will let you place online orders and then pick up your items in the store. You can also look into the Amazon locker service, which delivers Amazon orders to a "locker" in your area; you're provided a pickup code that will unlock the door for you. And the U.S. Postal Service suggest taking advantage of their Request Hold Mail service, which securely holds letters and packages at your local post office until you're back in town. FedEx and UPS also have similar location delivery services.
- UPS suggest signing up for a service called "UPS My Choice," which allows users to request their packages to be held at a UPS store for pick-up and more. You can control the service through text or email; it inlcudes features such as delivery notices and the option to re-route your packages to a different address if you won't be home.