The holidays are here, but don't let the hectic pace of the season keep you from using good judgment and common sense.
Not doing so can expose you, your vehicle and maybe even your home to the whims of a thief. Protecting yourself, your family and your belongings doesn't have to be difficult, inconvenient or expensive.
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The Vernon Hills Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit has the following simple suggestions to help improve your security, at home and away:
When parking --
• Try to park in well-lit areas.
• Always close the windows and lock your car.
• Hide small valuables in the glove compartment or under the seat. Lock larger items in the trunk or cover them up.
When shopping --
• Try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
• Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
• If you carry a purse, keep it close to your body, in front of you where you can see it at all times, and cover the clasp or flap with your hand or forearm. Never leave your purse unattended.
• Men should carry wallets in an inside coat pocket or side pants pocket, not in the rear pants pocket.
• Never overburden yourself with packages. Being loaded down may make it difficult for you to keep track of your purse or wallet or to respond to a situation.
• When shopping with children, hold their hand as much as possible. Tell them if they get separated from you, they should go to a security guard or store clerk and say they are lost. They must never go into the parking lot to look for you.
Protecting your identity --
• Try to deal only with reputable companies online
• Make sure a website has a physical address that YOU typed in (not one you clicked on in an email you received) and phone numbers you can call
• Shop at sites with secure ordering and posted privacy policies (look for websites that begin with "https" and not just "http."
• Visit the FTC's website at www.ftc.gov
Protecting your home --
• Make sure doors and windows are locked before going out, even if you are gone for a short time.
• Leave lights and/or a radio on so it looks like someone is home.
• If you are going out of town, install at least one light timer, ask a relative or friend to watch your home and to bring in the mail and newspapers promptly. Ask them to move the curtains periodically to make your home look "lived in." Make arrangements to have the snow shoveled.
• Most police departments offer a free vacation watch in which your home will be checked periodically while you are away. Call your police department and ask if this service is available.