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Cobb Police Offer Holiday Tips

Here are ways to safely enjoy this festive season while you're shopping, traveling and at home.

By Cobb County Police

During this festive season of the year, our thoughts turn to giving and receiving gifts, visiting friends and relatives, and delightful culinary experiences.

However, there are others who think about unoccupied, appliance-filled houses, distracted shoppers with extra cash in purses and wallets, and charity scams.

Don't give a thief a chance this year. Please exercise extra caution during this special season. Trust your instincts: If something does not look or feel right, it probably isn't. Remember, being safe doesn't take a holiday.

While Shopping

* Park in a highly visible, well-lit space. 
* Lock your vehicle while driving and parked. 
* Have your car keys in hand and be ready to open the car door immediately. 
* Place all shopping bags, packages and gifts out of sight. 
* Always know where you are parked, so you don't spend unnecessary time
walking around the parking lot. 
* Look inside and under your car before entering. 
* Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use a check or credit card. 
* Don't overburden yourself with packages. This will help deter pickpockets or purse snatchers. 
* Don't park next to a van or truck where people can hide. 

Out for the Evening

* Turn on lights, a television or radio so that it appears someone is home. 
* Secure all doors and windows, even if you're only gone for a few minutes. 
* Holiday gifts should not be displayed where they can be seen from the outside. 

Holiday Traveling

* Ask a neighbor to watch your house. 
* Use automatic timers for your lights. 
* Stop your mail and newspaper deliveries. 
* If necessary, arrange to have snow shoveled while you're away. 
* Notify your  and leave a number where you can be reached in case of an emergency.

While Driving

Watch out at intersections and stop lights. They're favorite spots for troublemakers. Keep your car in gear; if you're threatened, blow the horn, then drive away. Leave enough space between you and the car in front of you to pull around if necessary.

* Keep windows rolled up. 
* Keep doors locked at all times. 
* Keep valuables out of sight. 
* If followed, don't drive home. Go to a police station, fire house, gas station or public place. 
* If your car breaks down, stay with the car and accept NO rides. If someone stops to help, ask them to call the police. Use a cell phone if available.
Keep vehicle well maintained and filled with gas.
* And remember: gasoline and alcohol don't mix.

ATMs and ATM Cards

* Stay alert. 
* Be aware of your surroundings when you use an ATM, especially at night.
It's best to park in a well-lit area and have someone accompany you. 
* Report suspicious people. If you notice anything unusual, cancel your transaction, pocket your card and leave immediately. Go to a safe place and call the police if you suspect dangerous or illegal activity. 
* Be prepared. To complete your transaction safely, fill out deposit forms and have your card ready before arriving at the ATM. When you've completed your transaction, pocket your card and cash immediately. Count the cash later. 
* When using a drive-up ATM, remember to always keep your doors locked, all other windows up and the car running. 
* Guard your ATM card as carefully as you do cash, checks and credit cards.
Never give account numbers or card information over the phone. 
* Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) secret. Don't write your PIN on your card or keep the number in your wallet. Memorize your number and do not tell anyone what it is, even family members or bank employees.

Accidental Poisoning 

Accidental poisoning often occurs when daily household routines become disrupted, as they usually are during the holidays. Take a few minutes to poison-proof your home for little visitors. 

If a poisoning does occur, immediately call your local 24-hour Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or 404-616-9000.

At Home

* Keep all doors and windows locked, even if you step out for just a moment. 
* Mark all property with your driver's license number. 
* Videotape valuables as a record of ownership. 
* Inspect all holiday lights for frayed wiring before you hang them. 
* If you are using a ladder to hang holiday decorations, make sure it is properly secured. 
* Keep holiday decorations and plants away from young children and pets.
Some are poisonous. 
* Place your holiday tree or wreath away from heating vents or fireplaces to reduce risk of fire. 
* Keep fresh cut holiday trees watered. 
* Use extreme caution when using candles as part of your holiday decorations. 
* When partaking in holiday cheer, good judgment should always be exercised.

Charitable Donations

Beware of strangers coming to the door asking for charitable donations.
Ask for identification, if donations are tax deductible, and how the funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, don't give. Help a charitable group you know. 

Pam J December 12, 2011 at 11:04 PM
And, women, please keep control of your purses when they are in a shopping cart. I've seen so many women leaving their purses in the child's seat and walking away from them. Doesn't matter if you secure it with the seatbelt thingy - if you leave it wide open, that's all it takes.

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