It is a sad statistic that criminal activity increases during the holidays. That is why for the past ten years, the Desert Ridge Community Awareness Committee has worked with the city of Phoenix Police department, Urban Tactical Security (UTS), and community members to devise strategies that reduce crime and increase awareness in our community, especially this time of year.
Our strategies of increased holiday off-duty Phoenix Police patrols, along with additional patrols by UTS, have been great crime deterrents over the past few holiday seasons. In addition, community members have been more vigilant about locking vehicles, not leaving valuables in vehicles, locking side gates, and closing garage doors.
With travel and shopping returning to pre-pandemic levels, it’s important that we all stay vigilant which starts with knowing what to watch out for. This will give you and your family the best chance to enjoy a crime-free holiday season.
Below are my annual holiday safety tips to help get you through the season as safely as possible.
Awareness While Online
For most people, shopping online and picking up in-store or at a restaurant is an everyday occurrence. Unfortunately, cybercrime has also become an everyday occurrence.
We can continue to enjoy the convenience of ecommerce and avoid the scammers if we know what to look for. Here are some of the most common online scams to watch out for:
Fake Alerts – These email alerts look as if they are coming from a major retailer, utility company, or even your bank.
Not “Free” Gift Cards – Phishing ads offering gift cards from name-brand retailers.
Malicious E-Cards – Beware e-cards that require you to enter ANY personal information, even if it appears to come from someone you know.
Bogus Delivery Attempt Notifications – Legitimate delivery services will provide tracking numbers in the body of their emails, which DO NOT require you to click on a link. Track packages only on the carrier’s website by entering the tracking numbers.
Fraudulent Charities – Scammers know that this is the best time for giving and will pose as legitimate charities or needy individuals soliciting donations.
Awareness When Shopping in Person
A recent poll shows that more people will be shopping in person than over the past two years.
When you are out and about, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Take only the credit cards you need when shopping. Leave the others in a safe place at home.
- Make sure your credit card is not easily visible to others around you. This is especially true for older cards with numbers on the front. Some crooks can memorize your card number with a simple glance.
- When talking on your cell phone, be mindful of your surroundings. Distracted people are targets.
- Always keep your purse or wallet close to you.
- Do not carry excessive or unnecessary cash on you.
- Shop in the daylight if possible. When shopping after dark always park in a well-lit area.
- When you park your vehicle, do not leave your purse, wallet, cell phone, or any purchases from a previous stop in plain view.
- When you return to your vehicle, scan the interior to be sure no one is hiding inside.
- After putting packages in your vehicle, drive to a different row before going to another store. Do this
- even if you are simply going back to the same store.
- Try not to park next to a larger vehicle, that blocks your vision while you are entering or exiting your vehicle
- Have your keys out and ready when approaching your vehicle
Protecting Yourself at Home
During the holidays, there are a few extra things to consider in order to better protect your family and possessions:
- Make sure you have properly functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with fresh batteries
- To help prevent vandalism, turn off inflatable decorations at a specific time. If convenient, bring them up to the front porch or close to the house.
- Keep the front of the house well-lit and make sure that trees and bushes are trimmed so that doors and windows can easily be seen.
- Keep an eye out for parcel deliveries; packages on porches are big targets
- Do not leave boxes from your gifts curbside or in plain sight before or after the holidays. A box from a flat screen television, computer system or other valuable purchase is advertising to a criminal that you have what they’re looking for.
By utilizing these tips, having heightened awareness, and by using some common sense, we can all have a safer and more joyous holiday season.
A special thank you to all our patrol officers for their on and off duty work in keeping our community safe.
Want to Play a Bigger Community Role in 2023?
If you’re interested in learning how to start a neighborhood block watch program or want information on how to participate in the Phoenix Neighborhood Patrol Program, please contact the Desert Ridge Community Association office at 480-551-4553.