Fairfax County Police Department
Reston District Station
12000 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston, VA 20190
703-478-0904. TTY 711. Fax 703-318-9872
Date Released 11/8/12
Contact: Katy Defoe: 703-478-0904
Information Bulletin: Holiday Safety
A Holiday Safety Guide
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season makes it one of the
busiest seasons of the year. Whether you’re heading “over the
river and through the woods to Grandma’s” or just to your local
shopping center, the increased traffic is one of the first signs of
the season. Almost as predictably, the pace of life seems to
speed up as the holidays draw near.
To protect yourself from injury and your possessions from being
stolen during this busy time, it pays to exercise extra
caution. Preventing theft while you’re shopping or away from
home is largely a matter of taking the right preventative
measures. The increased traffic caused by shoppers and
vacation travelers also calls for added alertness on the roadways.
By making protective measures and increased awareness part of your
holiday routine, you stand a good chance of having a safe and happy
holiday season. This pamphlet is full of hints to help you
play it safe. Some are common sense reminders and others are
precautions you may have overlooked.
Here’s How to Play It Safe…
Despite holiday cheer, there’s a “Scrooge” in every crowd— someone
who wants to take advantage of your holiday spirit.
Crowded shopping centers can provide lucrative rewards to
thieves. As a general rule, your best protection is it to
make theft as difficult as possible. Even thieves know that
the harder you make it for them, the better the chances are that
they’ll be caught. If they sense this risk, they will
probably pass you by.
Carrying large sums of money is bad news. It’s best to try
to be discrete with your transactions. Flashing large
amounts of cash can be just what a thief is watching for.
Credit cards can be convenient and safer than cash, but only if
you use them wisely. Never carry more credit cards than you
plan to use, and remember to keep up to date records of your card
numbers in a safe place. It’s also a good idea to record
the telephone numbers associated with each card. Should
your cards be lost or stolen, it’s important to notify all of the
credit card companies immediately!
A purse is an easy target for a thief if it’s carelessly
carried. Make it difficult for purse-snatchers by carrying
it under your arm whenever possible. Make an effort to
carry your purse on your shoulder when you are shopping with a
cart, a unattended purse is an easy target for thieves.
Keep your wallet safe from pickpockets by carrying it in an
inside pocket instead of a back pants pocket. Be aware of
anyone bumping into you and look out for “staged” events.
Often pickpockets attempt to distract their victims so they won’t
notice their wallets being taken.
Lock your valuables in the trunk of your car. Valuables
which are safely out of sight are no temptation to thieves.
Make it a habit always to lock your car doors and close all
Windows before leaving, even if you’re gone for just a few
minutes. Remember, your GPS , MP3 player and all other
electronics are also prime target for thieves. Place those
items in your trunk as well.
It’s a smart idea to try to coordinate your shopping trips with a
friend. There is truth to the old adage, “there’s safety in
numbers.” A thief looking for a victim is less likely to
bother several people traveling together. It also pays to
avoid parking in an unlit or under-lit parking lot, no matter how
convenient they are, and to stay in well-lit areas when walking
to and from your car.
When holiday traveling is planned, take some precautionary
measures before you head out. The place to start is with your
Make sure your car is in working order; Have it checked out by a
certified mechanic if you do not have someone at home who can do
it. It is a good idea to have a emergency roadside
assistance kit in your car in case there is an emergency.
If you have a road side assistance service, make sure you have
all the information that is required with you in the car.
Allow yourself extra time for your trip. Since traffic and
parking problems often increase during the holiday season, it’s
not worth being in a rush. Be patient and courteous to
other drives because even a minor incident can spoil your
Before departing on your trip, it’s a good idea to take some
precautions around your house. Make your home look as it
someone is there even if you are not. Arrange for a
neighbor to pick up your mail and newspaper, even if you are only
going to be gone for a short period of time. If possible,
leave a locked car in the driveway and set timers inside to have
lights turned on while you are gone.
While at the Office…
The holiday season is often marked by numerous office celebrations
and a festive atmosphere that sometimes finds people failing to use
common sense in protecting themselves and their possessions.
Thieves will take advantage of any opportunity presented
them. During the holidays, when officer worker are busy
thinking about holiday parties or their holiday vacations,
thieves know that they may be distracted. Be as cautious
during this time of year as you would be during the rest of the
year. Be careful of delivery persons, and especially those
with “wrong addresses,” and carefully check the identifications
and instructions of all “repairmen” seeking entry into secure
areas of the building.
An office party crowd is a good place for a thief to work because
party goers aren’t always paying
attention to their belongings. Always keep your purse or
wallet locked securely in your desk and
out of public view.
Make sure that if alcohol is served everyone can get home
safely. Encourage co-workers to call a cab if you think
they have had too much to drink. Remember, Don’t Hesitate
to Designate, Don’t Drink and Drive.
While at home…
They say, ”There’s no place like home for the holidays.” If
that's where you plan to stay, there are plenty of things you can
do to safeguard yourself and your possessions.
Start by protecting your family and home from fire by buying new
batteries for all the smoke detectors in your home. Teach
children and pets not to play with or near tree lights,
electrical connections or candles.
Keep gifts and possessions safe from burglars by placing them
where they cannot be seen from windows or doorways. Again,
the best deterrent is a house that looks lived in with valuables
kept out of sight. Remember to keep an accurate, up-to-date
inventory of your things. You may have a great memory, but
you’d be surprised how difficult it is for a burglary victim to
recall things that are missing. Record all serial numbers
and model numbers from your electronic items and keep those
numbers somewhere safe, preferably not on your computer.
Mark your electronics with some sort of system, like an
ultraviolet pen or micro-dots.
There are people who will take advantage of your holiday
generosity, so be wary of strangers coming to your door asking
for charitable donations. Ask them for proper
identification and how the funds will be used. If you’re
not satisfied with their answers, don’t give. Remember, you do
not have to give money to anyone.
While Having a Holiday Party…
Everyone enjoys a holiday get-together. It’s a chance to
celebrate with friends and relatives and share the holiday
spirit. If you plan to throw a party, there are a few things
you should keep in mind to insure that your gathering is all that
you want it to be.
A lively party can attract unwanted guests. Look out for
party crashers and people who don't belong there, and remember
that vandalism and theft can occur. Don’t let people wander
into unoccupied areas of your home and place money, jewelry, guns
or valuables where they are not visible or easily accessible.
21 means 21. Make sure alcohol is not being served to under
aged guests. Also, arrange for Designated Drivers to drive
anyone who has had too much to drink home.
To request this information in an alternate format, call the
Reston District Station at 703.478.0904. TTY 711