Law enforcement and government officials are spreading the word — mostly via social media —to help keep shoppers safe this holiday season.
Atlanta Police Department is working with The Justice Network, a “new network that is partnering with us to share safety tips,” Elizabeth Espy, a spokesperson for APD, said in an email. “They produced the videos for their network and we are simply sharing them on our social media.”
In a holiday safety video posted on YouTube, APD Officer Ralph Woolfolk suggests traveling in groups, keeping your car keys in hand when walking through a parking lot and removing or hiding valuables from view in a car.
Heather Sautter, a publicist for Justice Network said tips will continue to be posted after the holiday season.
“We partnered with the APD in September of this year and shot the promos,” Sautter said. “We wanted to add a sense of credibility to our safety initiative and didn’t have to look far than our own backyard. Officer Woolfolk, a 5-year veteran of Atlanta’s police force and their community information officer seemed like a great local partnership for Justice.”
Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs police departments each have a “Lock. Take. Hide” campaign, where shoppers are advised to keep valuables out of sight.
Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis recently appeared on Facebook in a Dunwoody Police Department video for its “Lock. Take. Hide” campaign, while Sandy Springs created a video in 2013 that shows how a thief can break into a car and steal items in 20 seconds. The Sandy Springs video says, “If there is nothing to steal, nothing will get stolen.”
Sandy Springs Officer Forrest Bohannon said the city hasn’t seen more crime than usual this holiday season, but the department posted a graphic on Facebook reminding shoppers to “Stay alert and be aware of everybody around you.”
Dunwoody Traffic Enforcement Officer Christopher Irwin said people should think ahead and place valuables in the trunk before getting to the mall or even throughout the year when heading to the gym. “People go shopping and they’ll come out and put stuff in their trunk, but what people don’t realize is that the criminals are actually out in the parking lots watching,” Irwin said.
Brookhaven’s Officer Carlos Nino said remembering to lock up valuables is one part of staying safe. Remembering to alert police and “say something” is paramount, he said.
To stay safe during the holidays, local police departments recommend:
• Put all shopping bags in the trunk of your vehicle.
• Park in a well-lit area.
• Check around your car and look in the backseat before getting behind the wheel.
• Lock your doors and windows at home, even if you step out for a few minutes.
• Leave a light or a TV on so potential burglars will think you’re home.
• Never hesitate to call 911 if you think something doesn’t look right.
• Thieves will always target the people who look distracted, so be alert and pay attention.
• Shop in groups of two or more people.
• Don’t put your purse in your shopping cart. Thieves will try to distract you so they can lift your wallet or your purse when you’re not looking.
• Don’t hang your purse on the back of your chair at restaurants. The best place to keep your purse is your lap, police say.
• Place purchases beneath the table, near your feet.