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This festive season, don’t let the spirit of giving lull you into allowing burglars, muggers and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, especially because it’s an opportune time for crime.

Homes jam-packed with glittering gifts. Stores, shopping centres and streets teeming with unsuspecting shoppers. People rushing around, stressed out and careless, looking for last-minute gifts, trying to get everything done. It’s enough to make a crook giddy with holiday joy.

Here are some tips on how to celebrate safely this holiday season:

If You Are Travelling

  • Get an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask a neighbour to watch your home, close curtains/blinds, and park in the driveway from time to time.
  • Also get your neighbour to put your post in a safe place. If it piles up, it’s a sure sign you’re gone.

If You Are Out for the Evening

  • Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone’s home.
  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Don’t display gifts where they can be seen from outside.

If You Are Shopping

  • Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Park in a well-lit space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the car boot.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a credit/debit card whenever possible.
  • Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Don’t overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store assistant or security guard if you get separated.

Protect Your Vehicle

  • Loading up on all those gifts is a sign of progress in the holiday shopping. But if those packages are left out in the open after they’re in the car, your car has become a likely target for thieves. Remember the old cliché “Out of sight, out of mind?” The same idea applies to items in your car.
  • Always lock your vehicle and store all items out of sight. Breaking into an empty car isn’t worth a thief’s time. However, anything left in plain view—from your holiday gifts to spare change, sunglasses, CDs, mobile phones or briefcases—may tempt a thief.
  • Help prevent your vehicle from being stolen by always locking your car and using anti-theft devices. And although it’s cold, never leave your vehicle running while you run inside your home or a store—even if for only a minute or two.

If a Stranger Comes to the Door

  • Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts, so be cautious when accepting a package.
  • I’s not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others’ generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there’s no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you aren’t satisfied, don’t give. Help a charitable organisation you know and like instead.

After You’ve Opened the Gifts

Burglars know that many households have new, and oftentimes expensive, items in their homes following the Christmas holidays—especially items such as new computers and peripherals, stereo components, televisions, cameras and other electronic equipment. In too many cases, residents make it easy for burglars to figure out which homes to target by putting boxes that identify their new gifts in plain view with other items that have been put out. Avoid becoming an easy target for post-holiday burglars by not leaving boxes for new electronics and other items next to your bins. Instead, break down any boxes you are throwing out, put them in rubbish bags and place them inside a bin. (In many cases, especially with computer equipment, you might consider keeping the boxes for safe storage, shipping or moving in the future.) Think about keeping broken-down boxes inside—in a garage, for example—until the evening before your rubbish collection day. Some burglars actually look inside bins for evidence of holiday gifts.

Celebrate Responsibly

The holiday season is a time of celebration and revelry. Drinking and driving is a danger to everyone on the road. Remember that the risk isn’t worth it—if you choose to drink alcohol at a party or a night out, don’t drive. Take a cab, use public transport or a designated driver.

Enjoy the Season!

Last but not least, don’t let holiday stress get the best of your holiday spirit. Make time to get together with family, friends, and neighbours. And think about reaching out in the spirit of the season and helping someone who’s less fortunate or lonely.

Please note that all of our Krav Maga Self Defence Classes and Courses are based in Manchester

About Dave Kay

Provided security for high net worth clients. Successfully gained Krav Maga Instructor Certification in Israel. Studied and successfully passed Sports Science degree. Led expeditions in mountain, jungle and other inhospitable environments. Regularly update skills and knowledge base in different combat sports. Specialties: Krav Maga, Self Defence, Boxing, Fitness training, Nutrition and Diet. Undertake mountaineering, ice climbing, rock climbing, skiing, fell running, orienteering, mountain biking.
All of our Krav Maga Self Defence Classes are based in Manchester