Nothing can ruin the Christmas spirit faster than becoming a victim of crime, so here are the 12 days of crime prevention tips.
What we are doing at Safe Communities Portugal is launching our Twelve Days of Christmas – Crime Prevention Campaign. Based on the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”, the campaign will feature crime prevention tips on our Facebook page starting December 13 (rather than the traditional start date which is December 25) and on Kiss FM Radio, with full information on our website. So, let’s get started.
1st day – House security
On the first day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … advice about my Christmas lights and not to feed my extension leads through partially open windows as thieves know to look for this vulnerability.
Burglaries are one of the most common crimes and, in many cases, are a result of opportunistic thieves gaining access through open or unlocked doors and windows. Good home security measures are simple: install and use key-operated locks on doors and windows, don’t place keys under doormats or in obvious places.
2nd day – Crowded places
On the second day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … helpful information when shopping and in crowded places. When shopping, carry your bag over your shoulder, ensure it is tucked under your arm and never leave your bag in the shopping trolley. If someone bumps into you, check to see if your valuables are still there. Be alert, especially in crowded spaces or when people invade your personal space.
3rd day – Alcohol consumption
On the third day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … a reminder regarding drinking in moderation. It is easier said than done, however, when you drink more alcohol than usual, you can lose your inhibitions and act out of character which, in itself, could present you with a dangerous situation. Keeping your wits about you will decrease the risk of crime.
4th day – Safe driving
On the fourth day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … some great tips concerning safe driving. Remember the following when driving, namely: fasten seat belts and child restraints; don’t speed or become distracted through use of mobile phones. And never drink and drive.
5th day – Going out
On the fifth day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … some useful advice concerning security of my property when going out at night: keep your curtains and window blinds closed at night, making sure valuable items are out of sight as thieves go window shopping too. Please don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window so they’re easily visible from the street.
6th day – Vehicles
On the sixth day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … a reminder that to reduce thefts from vehicles, you should secure your parcels and gifts in the boot of your car when parked in public places and keep all valuables out of sight. Police recommend that you remove temptation by always locking doors and closing windows when your vehicle is unattended. Theft from vehicles is the highest crime in Portugal.
7th day – Planning ahead
On the seventh day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … a great tip that if you are going away over Christmas – plan ahead!
Don’t advertise it on any social media as this lets burglars know when your house is going to be empty. Arrange for someone to collect the mail and junk from your letterbox.
Ask a neighbour or friend to park in the driveway to help create the impression someone is home. Use a timer to turn on/off lights or a television/radio.
Do not to leave telephone answering machine messages saying you are away.
8th day – ATMs
On the eighth day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … useful guidance to beware of people standing near you when using an ATM machine; protect your PIN number and never count your cash in view of other people. Also check if the ATM has been interfered with and never accept offers from strangers on how to use the machine. Best use ATMs inside banks and shopping malls.
9th day – Expensive items
On the ninth day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … a reminder to not pile up empty gift boxes from Santa in the driveway as burglars appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside for them to steal.
Break them down and take them to the rubbish collection bins. Make sure you have not left receipts inside and your address is not on the packaging.
10th day – Scammers
On the 10th day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … some guidelines to be aware of scammers.
There are several scams to be wary of, including unexpected money or winnings, fake charities, dating and romance, fake buying or selling offers, jobs and investments, attempting to gain personal information, remote access scams and threats and extortion. Do not click on links or open attachments from people you do not know.
11th day – Businesses
On the 11th day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … some great tips regarding security of cash for businesses over the holiday period. With higher takings for bars and restaurants, ensure there is more than one staff member securing the premise late at night, cash is deposited at the bank regularly using variable routes and that deposit arrangements are only known to as few people as possible.
On the 12th day of Christmas, “Safe Communities” sent to me … a message wishing me A Very Happy and Safe Christmas and New Year.
By David Thomas
David Thomas is a former Assistant Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police, consultant to INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
In 2011, he founded Safe Communities Algarve to help the authorities and the community prevent crime. It is now registered as Associação SCP Safe Communities Portugal, the first national association of its type in Portugal.
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