The Holiday Season is here, with all of its hustle and bustle; and with all the distractions and activity, we sometimes forget the basics for maintaining our safety on the streets and at home.

The stores are full of people with money to spend and as shoppers speed along, focused on getting through a treasure hunt, a criminal can size up a potential victim. Busy shoppers can be targeted for purse snatching, pickpocketing and other forms of street robberies.

The Evanston Police Department wants everyone to be aware that thieves look forward to holidays as much as everyone else, and maybe more so.
Opportunity is the criminal’s key to crime; therefore a primary factor in crime prevention is being aware of your surroundings and potential areas of danger – thereby closing the criminal’s window of opportunity. Taking heed to the following crime-prevention strategies can ensure a holiday season that is both happy and safe.

The EPD also says gifts can be  protected if they are engraved with  an ID number or river’s license  number – but never a Social Security number.

Strategies include the following:

• Keeping one’s purse close to the body

• Shortening pocketbook or purse straps

• Using a fanny pack, which is more  difficult to steal, than a large purse

• Avoiding the use of a back pocket  or a wallet

• Carrying only the credit cards  needed for each trip

• Using checks or credit cards rather  than carrying large amounts of cash

• Being conscious about how and when  ATMs are used, such as having the card
ready before approaching the machine  and using one in a high traffic area.

• Shop with a friend

• Being aware of the environment – such as parking only in well-lighted  places and not taking shortcuts through  secluded or less-traveled areas  • Having car keys ready before leaving  the office, store or mall.

• If one believes someone is following  them they should cross the street, switch
directions, walk into a store or restaurant or, if danger seems to threaten, yell.

Crime Prevention Strategies for Vehicles:

• Drivers should park their cars in an area of high pedestrian activity,  whenever possible.

• Valuables should be stored in the  trunk or carried along when shopping – never left in open view. Cell phones and computers – even loose change visible in a vehicle – can make the car a target for thieves.

• Windows should be closed and cars locked.