Parking and shopping at shopping centers and malls
Parking lots at shopping centers and malls can be a magnet for crime such as thefts from vehicles, vehicle thefts and purse-snatchings, especially during the hectic holiday season. It is important for citizens to always be aware of their surroundings in order to minimize the potential for becoming victimized.
• Park only in well-lighted and highly visible locations.
• Park in areas where there is regular vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
• Always lock doors and activate the car alarm.
• Remove any and all valuables that can be seen from the outside of your vehicle, and place them in your trunk (items such as GPS devices, cellular phones, cash and coins and recently purchased merchandise are highly sought after by criminals).
• Be very alert when walking to and from your vehicle in parking lots as it is much easier for criminals to hide between vehicles. Try to avoid talking on your cellular phone or engaging in conversation with anyone that may be accompanying you. This will only serve to distract you as you’re walking to and from your vehicle.
• For women, be sure to secure your purse in such a way that it would be difficult for a stranger to walk up and grab. When possible, leave as many valuables at home or secured in your vehicle in order to become less of a potential target.
• Trust your instincts. If you see someone that concerns you, find another parking space, change directions or yell for help.
• Keep your keys in your hands and use your remote “panic” alarm as a warning device in order to the draw the attention of others and to potentially ward off any strangers when you feel concerned or threatened.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. If you are carrying cash, try to keep it in your front pocket.
• Generally speaking, consider the idea that most property can be replaced. A physical confrontation with a criminal may not be in your best interest if the issue is just over property.
• If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a mall or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need. Be sure to protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.
• If you must take children, teach them to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you.
• Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.
Our homes can also be rather attractive to criminals during the holidays. Criminals are well aware that most citizens store their newly purchased gifts and presents in one central location, which happens to be under the holiday tree. This makes for quick work if the criminal is able to easily access your home since little, if any, searching will be necessary for them. Additionally, high-dollar items that normally have serial numbers will be difficult for law enforcement to track down since most items will likely be unopened and no record of the serial number will be recorded.
• Be careful to not block windows with outdoor or indoor decorations. Blocking windows makes it easier for criminals to go unnoticed if they attempt to peer into windows.
• Do not replace outdoor security lights with bulbs of seasonal colors such as red and/or green. These colors significantly reduce the amount of light emitted making it easier for an intruder to navigate around your property undetected.
• It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes although no charity is involved. Ask for their identification, and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.
• Be a responsible neighbor and report any suspicious people, vehicles or activity in your neighborhood to the police. All it takes is a phone call.
• If you are planning a vacation or will be out of town for an extended period of time, consider contacting the Noblesville Police Dept. for a Vacation Watch form. Forms can be accessed online at cityofnoblesville.org/police.
If citizens have any questions or would like more information about the Vacation Watch program, they are encouraged to contact the department at 776 – 6340 ext. 1261 for Lt. Bruce Barnes, NPD’s Public Information Officer.