In recent weeks, we have enjoyed a reduction in the number of crime incidents in Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista as compared to earlier this year, but as we enter the holiday season, a period that often includes an uptick in crime, some reminders are in order.
We should all take care to be aware of our surroundings, stay alert to suspicious activity and to be mindful not to create unnecessary targets for crime. The Los Angeles Police Department has provided several safety tips to help keep you and your loved ones protected during December.
Many of us take advantage of the convenience of shopping on the computer, but with the increase in online shopping comes the increase in home deliveries and boxes being left unattended on front porches. According to LAPD Officer Renee Minnick, thieves will literally follow the UPS and FedEx trucks around our streets and steal boxes that are delivered to homes. It is recommended that arrangements be made so that boxes are not left unattended. Instead, have them delivered to your work, if possible, or to a neighbor who is at home. You can also try a service like Amazon Locker or The UPS Store, where you go to pick up your deliveries. Another safety tip concerning deliveries is to be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. Always take care when deciding to open your door to a stranger.
During the holidays, it is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people by fraudulently soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes, although no charity is involved. Before handing out any money, ask for identification and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied with the solicitor’s answer, do not donate. Better yet, do not transact any business with someone who knocks on your door. Instead, donate directly to a recognized charitable organization. No matter the season, we have a large number of cars that are burglarized in the neighborhood. Many times, vehicles have been left unlocked and burglars get in and rummage around collecting what they can. Other times, a window is smashed to break into the car because something that appears to be of value has been left in the car. LAPD tells us time and again to “Lock it, Hide it, Keep It.” Remember, do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
Other helpful reminders to help keep your property safe this season include:
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.
- When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
- Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
- Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied. Also, please remember that large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
By Cyndi Hench
Cyndi Hench is president of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa.