Holiday Watch means ramped up patrols

The Fallbrook Sheriff’s substation is preparing to implement its Holiday Watch program which means patrols through shopping centers will be increased during the upcoming holiday season.

Substation commander, Lt. Todd Richardson said, “We are going into a time of year when crime typically increases – which is during the holidays. We will be launching our Holiday Watch program with increased patrols by both deputies and senior volunteers.”

Richardson said citizens need to be as proactive as possible in helping protect their vehicles and homes from theft.

“Citizens can help greatly with this by keeping valuables like purses, electronics such as cell phones, iPads, iPods, laptops, and more out of sight in their vehicles,” he said. “I have seen areas where an 80 percent reduction in these types of crimes has been realized during a holiday season when citizens are diligent.”

Sheriff’s Dept. crime prevention specialist John McLelland concurs that the holidays bring greater risk of theft.

“Remember, the thieves are out looking for gifts too,” said McLelland. “Unfortunately, they are not interested in paying for their gifts.” He also said many thieves are looking to support a drug habit by stealing goods.

“It can be something a thief wants for himself or something he can turn over (fence) to get dope,” he said.

McLelland said with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is easy for citizens to get distracted and become targets for crime.

“We can all get caught up in the hubbub and not focus on things like we usually would; the fast-paced nature of the season and the many distractions can leave us open for crime,” he added.

Suggestions for citizens include:

When out and about:

• One should be aware of his or her surroundings at all times. Cell phones should be used sparingly in order to not be distracted and stay focused on your surroundings.

• Always lock car doors and roll windows up all the way, whether out and about or at home.

• Leave nothing inside of a car in view of others. Do not tempt the thief. Those that drive an SUV or mini van should cover their packages so they are not visible from the outside.

• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use credit cards or checks whenever possible. If one must use cash, carry different amounts in different pockets so as to not expose the entire amount to a potential thief.

• Discourage pick pockets by being extra cautious with purses and wallets. At the mall, carry a purse close to your side or place a wallet in a front pocket with a rubber band wrapped around it. Remember not to leave a purse or shopping bag unattended in a shopping cart.

• Shop during daylight hours when possible. At night, park close to the building and under a light. Think about shopping with a friend or two. If necessary, ask if a mall or store employee can provide escort to a vehicle.

• Have the car key ready when approaching a vehicle. Look under the vehicle, in the back seat, and the front seat. Get in quickly and lock the doors. Start the car and move to a different location to settle packages and let the engine warm up.

While at home:

• Always keep windows and exterior doors locked, even when at home. Never leave a purse, wallet, checkbook, iPod, laptop or other important item in a vehicle, especially if parked outside of an enclosed garage.

• Never open the door to a stranger.

• Do not put large displays of gifts in front of a window or door visible from the street or passerby.

• After Christmas, cut up and conceal the larger containers that gifts came in to avoid advertising what is inside the home to a potential burglar later on.

• If leaving for a period of time, leave a radio tuned to a talk show radio station at a low volume and place several lamps on overlapping timers to simulate movement inside of the home.

• Contact the Sheriff’s Senior Volunteer Patrol to do a vacation check if someone isn’t house-sitting. The key to burglary deterrence is to make a home appears occupied at all times.

Most importantly, the Sheriff’s Dept. advises that if citizens notice anything suspicious or out of place, they should call the communications center at (760) 728-1113. If it is clear that a crime is in progress, 911 should be called.

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