With Christmas just around the corner, it’s all too easy to become caught up in the rush and busy-ness of life and not be as careful or safety aware as we usually are.
That is why Neighbourhood Watch Australasia have released 22 crime prevention tips to ensure people stay safe during the holidays.
Here is everything you need to know to help you and your loved ones stay safe and secure this festive season.
Fake Delivery Messages
You may receive fake text or email messages claiming you have a parcel for pick-up or delivery. These messages can look very real and appear to be from legitimate organisations. Do not click on any links. Put messages you are unsure of into the ‘junk’ folder first, and then check the sender’s email address or the website URL address provided.
If you have Christmas light cords running through a window or door, ensure they can be securely locked at night, as this can be a weak spot that makes it easy to enter a home. Be vigilant about locking doors and windows when you leave your home, and make sure your garage door is closed completely before you drive off.
Do not display your Christmas gifts near windows in your home so they are easily visible from outside or let them be seen inside your car. Take a walk outside to see if valuables can be seen inside your home, and ensure they are out of sight.
Away from home
If going away, make efforts to trick would-be burglars into thinking you are still home. This can include things like leaving your lights on a timer, asking a neighbour to collect your mail, leaving shoes by the front door, or asking a neighbour to park their car in your driveway.
Social media posting
Avoid posting information about gifts from Santa on social media, or that you are going away. Thieves can stalk social media and find out who has the best loot worth taking.
Safe Package Delivery
If you’re expecting a parcel, be careful with its delivery. To avoid porch and front-door thieves, request signature confirmation, or arrange to have your parcel held at a post office for pick up, or have a trusted neighbour receive it for you.
No mobile phones while driving
Many people on Christmas will want to send you a Merry Christmas message, and this can be a dangerous distraction while driving. Set your phone to “do not disturb” when going on road trips for everyone’s safety.
Do not leave candles unattended in your home and make sure they are not placed near flammable items. Turn off all Christmas lights and electrical items when going to bed.
Always tell your family and close friends of your travel plans and provide them with your itinerary so they know where you are, and how to contact you in an emergency.
Be careful of holiday scams. Scammers try to take advantage of online shoppers to steal their identity, make bogus gift offers, or pose as a charity. Do not give out your personal information such as your credit card details and do not open any emails or click on links from people you don’t know.
Don’t leave keys hidden outside or under a door mat, flowerpot or in a plastic rock – thieves know where to look. Leaving spare keys with a trusted neighbour or a secure location is a safer option.
Remember safety gear
If giving a bike, scooter, or other riding toys as a present, don’t forget the safety gear. This can include a helmet or kneepads.
The holiday season is a time when many people will be busy shopping and running errands. Criminals will also be out and about looking for easy targets and to make a big score. Even though you may be rushed and have many things on your mind, stay alert to your surroundings.
If you’re going away for Christmas and can’t bring your loveable pets along, look for a pet sitter or ask a trusted neighbour or friend to look after them. If left alone in the December heat, a pet may become dehydrated if not given water regularly.
Motor vehicle theft
Lock your car and don’t leave your keys near the front door where they can be easily stolen by opportunistic thieves. Make sure your keys are with you or in a secure location. Don’t tag your keys with personal information like your name or address and try to park in a secure carpark wherever possible.
Child safety online
Children will be spending more time on the internet and playing with their phones and devices while on holidays. Make sure you know what your children are doing online. Know the warning signs and never supply personal information or photos to anyone online. Child sexual exploitation can happen to anyone, and if it is suspicious, you should make a report. For more tips on how to keep children safe online visit the ACCCE website at www.accce.gov.au
A Christmas roast or barbecue can be a holiday highlight, but don’t leave it unattended. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
The holidays are a time to celebrate, however you should look after yourself and your mates. If drinking alcohol, drink responsibly, and make sure to keep drinking water and eat some food. Remember, it’s never ok to drink and drive.
Contact your local Neighbourhood Watch
If you live in an area with a Neighbourhood Watch, tell your local coordinator that you will be away, and how long for.
When selecting house or Christmas tree decorations, be sure to choose ones that are flame resistant, flame retardant, and won’t shatter if broken.
Secure your devices
It is always a good idea to make sure your devices are protected against malware and viruses by installing the latest updates and running up-to-date anti-virus software.
Report any suspicious activity to the police. In an emergency or when a crime is taking place, call Triple Zero (000). If a crime has already happened call Police Link on 131 444. For anonymous reporting call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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