Steps to avoid becoming crime victim

Enid Police Department

ENID, Okla. — Law enforcement officials are encouraging residents to take extra steps this holiday season to prevent crimes and avoid becoming victims.

Enid Police Department Capt. Tim Jacobi said shoppers should follow some simple tips to prevent becoming a victim.

“We’re hoping the community has a wonderful holiday season, and taking these steps will help prevent a disaster by falling prey to a crime,” he said.

He suggested trying to shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If shopping at night, take a friend or family member along or shop in a group.

Jacobi recommended paying for items with check or debit or credit card when possible and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. He said shoppers should remember to carry wallets or billfolds in a front pants pocket, avoid leaving purses unattended in shopping carts and to keep an eye on them at all times.

If a credit or debit card is lost or stolen — report it immediately.

He also recommended bringing only one card or the amount of cash needed for a specific purchase.

If visiting an ATM, go to one well lit or where there are other people. Avoid throwing away ATM receipts at the ATM location and shield your PIN number if anyone is standing nearby while visiting the machine.

“Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert of your surroundings,” Jacobi said. “Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.”

When parking at a store or mall, try to park near the entrance and in a well-lit area. Never let children return to a car by themselves or leave them in cars alone. Don’t let children make unattended trips to the restroom.

When leaving, have your keys ready to get into your vehicle as quickly as possible, he said.

“If you feel uncomfortable returning to your vehicle, ask a clerk or an employee from the store to escort you to your vehicle,” Jacobi said.

Never leave packages in vehicles where they are visible from the outside, he said. Put all purchases in the trunks of vehicles or keep them covered and out of view.

Jacobi also said to protect cellphones to prevent the theft of personal or financial information. He also said those with smart phones should avoid “checking in” on social networking sites.

“When you do that you are telling everyone that you are at a specific place or not at home,” he said. “Cellphones are so connected to our lives that they contain a lot of vital information you don’t want someone else to have.”

Jacobi also recommended recording serial numbers of all electronics or using owner-applied identifiers on items such as jewelry.

When shopping online, the captain suggested using a credit card for online purchases, rather than a debit card.

“I would recommend they use a credit card in lieu of a debit card attached to a personal banking account,” he said.

Jacobi said online shoppers should only shop at reputable online retailers and be wary of links to specific items. He said online shoppers should enter a site’s URL manually and not rely upon links.

“If they are redirected, they need to make sure they check the URL, and the site in general, to ensure it still where they want to be,” he said.

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Rains is police and court reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @cassrains.
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