Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Seasonal Crime Prevention Tips

I got the following information emailed to me today from the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association. It was so full of great information that I couldn't resist sharing it with others. We spend a lot of time thinking about the great things surrounding Christmas but seldom think about the darker side lingering in the shadows.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

John Stark

Happy Holidays from The Des Moines Police Department!

During the year-end holidays, people are often busy, excited and sometimes a little bit careless. The following holiday crime prevention tips should be shared with others:

At Home:

  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your house or apartment, even for a few minutes.

  • Lock garage doors and windows.

  • Don’t display holiday gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway. Store gifts before you go away on a holiday

  • If you go out, turn on lights and a radio or television so the house or apartment appears occupied.

  • If you are leaving for an extended period of time have some interior lights and a radio activated by a timer. Have a neighbor or family member watch your house, shovel new snow, pick up the mail, and newspaper and park a vehicle in your driveway from time to time.

  • Mark your property with a unique identification number and keep a home inventory list of major personal possessions including respective serial numbers.

  • Be wary of strangers soliciting for charitable donations. They may attempt to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays. Ask for identification, how donated funds are used, and if contributions are tax deductible. Check with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, before giving. If you are not satisfied with the answers don’t give.

  • After the holidays don’t forget to add any new possessions to your home inventory.

  • Test your smoke detectors.

  • Use only fire resistant ornaments on holiday decorations, make sure lights are in good working order and keep live trees watered. Don’t leave holiday lights on all continuously or when you are away from home.

  • Avoid leaving boxes from purchases out on the curb, in plain site, for trash pick up (especially TVs, computers, and other new electronic items).


  • Shop before dark, if possible. Possibly coordinate shopping trips with a friend. Never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient it is.

  • Lock your purchases in your trunk in order to keep them out of plain site, if possible. Keep your doors locked and windows closed.

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card whenever possible.

  • To discourage purse-snatchers, don’t overburden yourself with packages.

  • Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back trouser pocket.

  • Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if they become separated from the adult they are with. Children should never go into a parking lot to look for the adult they are separated from.

Holiday Parties:

  • Have non-alcoholic beverages available for party guests.

  • Don’t let guests drink and drive.

Scam Artists:

In addition to these crime prevention tips, be aware of a scam artist coming to your doors or approaching you asking for money. Again this year, we have received complaints of a black male in his 50s, with his two front teeth missing, knocking on doors asking for a loan. He tells individuals that his car is broke down or his wife is pregnant and needs a ride to the hospital. Don't fall prey to these scams. We would encourage you to call DMPD at 283.4811. He is known by the police and has been working the East side but is known to travel throughout the city.

Sergeant Larry Davey
Senior Police Officer Larry D. Rogers
Senior Police Officer Kelly Fisher
Neighborhood Area Resource Coordinator's Office
Des Moines Police Department

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