Guide to Holiday Safety


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…


While Shopping…


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.  


While Traveling…


When holiday traveling is planned, take some precautionary measures before you head out.  The place to start is with your car.


  • 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 holiday. 


  • 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






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