The Evanston Police Department is warning residents to heighten their perception of possible crimes during the holiday season, when thefts and robberies predominate.

While many of their tips represent basic common sense, others are a result of their specialized experience dealing with the criminal mind.

Here are a few strategies to keep your holidays safe and secure:

Keep your purse close to your body.

If your pocketbook has long straps, shorten them.

If possible, avoid carrying a large purse when shopping.  A fanny pack is compact and more difficult for a thief to grab and run.

Do not carry a wallet in a back pocket. It should be placed in a front pocket of your pants for safety.

Carry only the credit cards you intend to use, leave the others behind.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use checks or check cards.

Use ATMs wisely. Have the card ready before approaching the machine, and use one in a high traffic area.

Shop with a friend, there is safety in numbers.

Be aware of the environment. Don’t walk or park in poorly lit areas. Don’t take so-called shortcuts through secluded areas.

Don’t be distracted by a cell phone conversation or an audio-receiving device.

Have car keys ready before leaving the office, store or mall.

If you believe someone is following you, cross the street, switch directions, walk into a store or restaurant. If you are really scared, yell. Don’t be embarrassed. Your safety is more important.

If possible, park your car in an area of high pedestrian activity. Avoid remote areas.

Do NOT leave valuables in open view in your car. Put them in the trunk, or take them along with you. This is the time of the year when thieves do their own form of “window shopping.”

Lock your car and close the windows, even if you are only gone for a few minutes. 

Loose change visible in a vehicle is a target; they will break your window for small change.

Your cell phone can be sold and reprogrammed and is a sought item of theft.

A laptop or tablet computer will be resold for money at your expense

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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