Police urge holiday caution

Tue, 12/02/2008 - 3:40pm
By: John Munford

Peachtree City police are seeing a rise in shoplifting, theft and fraud crimes likely tied to the holidays and the poor economy, and residents are being urged to protect themselves.

Recently one enterprising criminal posed as a good Samaritan who pumped gas for an elderly woman, police said. It wasn’t until later that the victim realized her wallet had been stolen by a pickpocket who used credit and debit cards from the wallet “all over the city,” said Capt. Rosanna Dove.

Bags and purses should be kept closed and not left unattended in shopping baskets, as it only takes a moment for a thief to reach in and steal a wallet, police said. Residents are also urged to empty their mailbox as soon as possible so thieves can’t open credit cards to make fraudulent purchases.

Likewise, residents are urged to avoid using their mailbox to send mail, as the red flag invites criminals to steal the mail and perhaps commit identity fraud. Instead, the post office or other approved locations should be used to send mail, police suggest.

Police are asking residents to be alert and pay attention to their surroundings, particularly to people and incidents that appear out of the ordinary. Suspicious activity should be reported to police, and residents are urged to use their instincts and follow the credo: “If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.”

In such situations, police should be summoned immediately to have the best chance of catching the perpetrators, police said.

Residents should avoid walking to their car with hands full of packages, which could reduce their reaction time to a potential crime. Instead, shoppers should have their keys ready and always be aware of people walking around you, police said.

Shoppers should also walk in well-lit areas and be with a friend if possible, which is likely to reduce one’s chances of being targeted for a crime, police said.

If a crime occurs, residents should not confront the criminal but observe their physical characteristics and the tag numbers of any vehicles, police said.

All valuables should be kept out of sight and in locked areas, whether you are driving around town or at home, police suggest.

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