Tips for safe holidays

  • Written by Officer Shelia Starrett, Woodinville Police
The holiday season is upon us with all its hustle and bustle.

More people are out and about on foot and in cars. Traffic is heavier and stores more crowded. With all the distractions and activity, we sometimes forget about basic safety and crime prevention. Opportunity is crime’s best friend and it can happen in just a few minutes.

By staying alert and following a few tips, you can reduce the possibility of crime while enjoying a safe and happy holiday.

Crime Prevention involves being aware of your surroundings and potential areas of  vulnerability. In doing so, you actively reduce a criminal’s window of opportunity.

Here are some helpful tips:

• Stay alert to your surroundings and those around you.

• If you must carry a purse,  keep it close to your body not dangling by the straps or in a cart.

Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.

• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and only carry the credit cards you need.

• Shop with a friend; there is safety in numbers.

• Don’t overburden yourself with too many packages.

• Don’t leave packages or valuables  visible inside your car. Preferably secure items in the trunk of your car.

• Have your keys ready in hand before leaving the store.

• When returning to your vehicle, scan the interior of your car before getting inside.

• Don’t electronically unlock your vehicle until you are within door opening distance.

• Teach your children about what to do if they are lost or separated from you. [ie., go to a store clerk, security person or police officer]

Donating to

Charities and Solicitors

The familiar red kettle and bells are at various locations. The holiday sounds and spirit inspire giving, and charitable organizations need help with funding.

BUT, don’t let the spirit of giving lull you into a scam and trick you.

It is common for people to try and take advantage of the generosity of others during the holidays.

Ask for identification that ties them to that charity. Never give cash.

If something seems suspicious, don’t give. Call 911 and report the incident.

If you have doubts about a group, you can check for authenticity at, and

Charitable giving is noble, but if uncertain about the person or organization do some homework.

Crime Prevention Tips For Home

Our homes are our castles, our safe havens and also the place where we often become the most complacent about safety. At some point or another, I have been guilty of this too.   A nudge [“mom, you left the back door unlocked”], a workshop or an incident generally kicks me back into awareness.

• Locking doors and windows are your primary and basic steps.  Even if you are leaving for just a few minutes. Check.  Activating your alarm system if you have one. Check.  Okay; what else?

Being ‘aware’ will help you avoid inadvertently broadcasting your treasures.

• If you are expecting a package to be delivered, plan to be home to receive it.

If you cannot be there, consider delivery at your place of business or arrange to pick the item up (at Fed Ex, UPS or a neighbor’s house).  Unattended packages left at your door are targets for thieves.

• Don’t display gifts where they can be seen from outside.

• When you discard boxes and packaging from items (plasma TV, Xbox, etc.) don’t put them outside or left next to the trash. Break the boxes down first, then discard them on trash day.

• Place a lamp inside your home on a timer to ensure you won’t come home to a dark house.

• If you’re going to be away, let your trusted neighbors know that you plan to be out of town so that they can watch your home.

Consider having them park in your driveway from time to time.

Stop your mail service and newspapers, or have someone collect them for you.

• Get an automatic timer for home interior lights.

The Woodinville Police Department offers a ‘House Check’ service. While you are away.

Click on Crime Prevention, then ‘House Check Request’

If our homes are our castles, let’s keep our treasures safe.

Refuse To Be A Victim

Our next seminar is tentatively scheduled for spring 2012.   Space will be limited to twenty (20) participants. Don’t miss out on this free event  on crime prevention and safety information. A home Security assessment is also available through your police department, at your request.  An officer will help you to identify aspects of your home/property that could create a potential safety risk.

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