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Ten Things to Keep your Family Safe during the Holidays

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Some of these you may have heard before, but they are worth repeating. A few, you may have never thought of.

1. After you pick up the mail don’t put it in your car. I know – you’re rushed. You go to the mailbox, pick it up, glance through it and then get in the car to drive to the mall. The problem is the bad guys are walking around the malls and glancing in cars. If they see your mail, and your address, they know where you live and that you are not home. At the very least, conceal in your car.

2. The same bad guys and looking in cars at all the cool stuff you bought. Think like a bad guy. You are walking through the mall parking lot. Car A has nothing visible. Car B has something under a blanket. Car C has shopping bags on the bag seat. Car D has new video game, in the box, on the backseat. Which do you choose? As you can see, you level of action gives you a certain level of protection. Bad guys by-pass Car A – there is no readily visible reward their risk. They think about B and C, but will likely choose D. Except, if there are no D choices in the parking lot they move onto targeting those who have a lesser level of security. The point is, the more you conceal the reward the less likely you are to become a victim.

3. Following on with the concept of concealing the potential reward from bad people, don’t flash cash. Like at the check-out stand you fumble through your wallet (or purse) and not only tick off everyone behind you but let us see your Christmas cash and all the medication you are taking to get through the holidays. Also, carry a few dollars in a pocket to tip or donate – as you walk by the guy with the irritating bell and red hat you can reach into your pocket and give him a couple of bucks and not display your vast horde Christmas cash. Don’t flash cash.

4. Turn off your Christmas tree lights at night. Make sure you water it (follow the instructions) and get rid of it. I have seen one of these “explode” in a house. It is probably the most dangerous thing you will ever bring into your home.

5. At this time of year someone has to be home or you have to take steps to make it look like someone may be home. Everyone knows that you have a bunch of cool stuff in one location (under a tree) and packaged to easily carry it out of your house. Pick up the newspaper; put lights on a timer; double check that the doors and windows are secured, etc.

6. Don’t open the front door to someone you do not know. Don’t give strangers a ride. Don’t go to places you know are dangerous. The simplest of barriers will often deter the bad guys. However, if you let your personal drawbridge down they will come in. I know, it’s the holidays and we are all happy and loving. That awesome – be happy and loving to your family and friends. With strangers, smile, nod and look over your shoulder.

7. Keep the boxes the stuff came in until after January 1st. First, it makes returning and re-gifting a whole lot easier. Secondly, after the Christmas thieving rush, you can tear the boxes up and throw them away – perhaps a one or two per week until they are all gone. But, if you put the box the 42 inch LCD came in, at the curb, everyone in the neighborhood knows you got a new television. Again, conceal the reward.

8. Don’t drink and drive. All the holiday parties, all the booze, all the DUI drivers and all the unnecessary tragedies. Everyone who ignored that, stop reading for a moment, the rest of you, who won’t drink and drive – keep reading. A whole bunch of normally responsible adults turned off their brains when they read – Don’t drink and drive. That’s because they are going to drink and drive. The rest of us have to take measures. First, as you should normally do, buckle up and drive defensively. Also, there are peak DUI hours. Think about it, “last call for alcohol” is also “first call for the DUI parade.” So, shortly before bars close and shortly afterwards, there is a spike in the number of impaired drivers. Moreover, this time of year, with office and family parties, in the evenings, particularly around the weekends, there is likely a spike in the number of DUI drivers. There are some measures we can take. As an example, plan your trips before dusk. Alternatively, if you are on the road this time of year, slow down, wait an extra moment after the light changes, think about the people who are waiting to turn in front of you and so forth. Drive defensively.

9. Give to known charities. People going door-to-door selling BS are selling BS. People calling you on the phone or sending you unsolicited emails are irritating and likely trying to simply separate you from your cash. I know, we all feel thankful and generous. That is a good thing. Don’t let the bad guys take advantage of your giving and happy nature this time of year. Give to known charities, only.

10. Thank a cop, a firefighter, paramedic, ER nurse, soldier, sailor, Marine, airmen or Coastguardsman. All the people who are standing watch while you open gifts deserve our thanks.

About the Author
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.) retired from the Los Angeles Police Department. He is the author or co-author of six books including Police Technology and Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style. He can be contacted through his website at


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