December brings a multitude of holidays: Christmas, Kawanzaa, Festivus and the recently passed Hanukkah. As that pervasive and over-played 1960s Christmas song says, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” But, with holiday shopping and gift giving, it’s also a great time for robbers as commercial corridors fill up with shoppers, especially after dark.
So, each year the police warn us: Be extra careful when you are out holiday shopping, particularly in the evening. The following email this week from MPD 2nd District Commander Matt Klein is a reminder of why you should be extra watchful of your surroundings in December:
Yesterday evening, a woman walked out of the Apple Store in the 1200 block of Wisconsin Avenue, NW after purchasing 2 laptop computers. A short time and distance later, while walking from the store to the 3300 block of N Street NW, the woman was robbed by 2 suspects. She was forcefully knocked down to the ground and both suspects escaped with the computers. I think it’s safe to assume that the victim was followed from the store. The suspects may have been waiting for someone to leave the store with large bags or other obvious indications of a large purchase. I have placed additional officers in the area and PSA 206 managers are discussing further precautions with the store.
As most of you know, this time of year is a favorite for criminals. They know we’re out shopping and probably not paying much attention to our surroundings. Please make sure to be aware of what’s going on around you; never leave valuables in your cars; and use common sense when leaving stores with large packages. If you see anyone acting suspiciously, call 911 immediately.
Here are some holiday-season safety tips from the DC MPD.
10 Quick Holiday-Season Safety Tips
- Talking on your cell phone and/or listening to a music player are the kind of distractions that robbers look for when selecting targets. When exiting your vehicle or walking to your destination, it is so important to focus on getting where you must go (free of distractions that prevent you from noticing dangerous situations).
- Be careful when selecting ATMs. Officers recommend using indoor machines located at banks and locations with indoor cameras. Avoid using ATMs at gas stations, at night and at outdoor locations.
- When the sun sets, your view is limited. This means you are unable to see suspicious activity, easily. If you must be out alone after dark, stay focused on reaching your destination with very little distractions. This includes
carrying armloads of items that will restrict your ability to escape a dangerous situation.
- Financial experts advise against carrying Social Security Cards in your wallet or purse. This card is rarely needed for everyday use, but will cause a major headache if stolen, particularly with Identity Theft. If you become a
victim of theft, contact the three credit reporting agencies to find out how to lock your credit reports. In some cases, one agency can lock your credit report for the other two agencies. Be sure to use the official websites for each of them (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
- The holiday season is the most vulnerable for people looking to catch holiday deals. Do not shop from strangers selling questionable items. These items, most likely have been stolen. You could be arrested for receiving stolen property. In addition, there are many scams that take place during this time, including con artists selling what appears to be flat-screen televisions, which turn out to be oven doors.
- Common remarks from a robber before attacking his/her victim. “Excuse me, ma’am/sir, what time is it?” “Excuse me, do you have any change?” “Can you tell me how to get to…”
- Common clothing of robbers: (dark hooded sweatshirts, dark-colored jeans, black tees, black jackets).
- Snatch-and-Grab thieves are looking for people carrying large sums of money, purses, iPhones and other fancy smart phones, iPods, laptops, and cars with GPS units in plain view. Be cautious and stay alert. Place locks on your cell phones to protect your data.
- Burglars are looking for dark areas, with unsecured doors and windows that are easy to access.
- Visit the MPD website for additional safety tips.