Police, sheriff offer holiday safety tips

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With all of the decorations, shopping, parties, and fun that comes with the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that others will try to take advantage of these distractions.

The Bossier City Police Department and Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington are urging the community to be vigilant and responsible while enjoying holiday festivities.

The Bossier City Police Department will once again deploy its Armed Robbery Task Force at businesses and shopping centers throughout the holiday shopping season to help deter business armed robberies and other crimes that have the potential to increase during this time of year.

The Bossier City Police Department has utilized its Armed Robbery Task Force each year during the holiday shopping season since 1987.

Officers assigned to the Task Force will help ensure that holiday shoppers have a pleasant experience while out filling their Christmas lists,” said Traci Landry, Bossier City Police spokesperson via an emailed press release.

Bossier police also reminds shoppers to be proactive by not being an easy target for criminals. The No. 1 safety tip is to stay alert and use common sense.

“Be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down,” said Landry.

She notes the majority of criminals are opportunists and will move on if a home or vehicle is not easily accessible. In that vein, here are other holiday shopping safety tips:

• Shop with a friend. Leave your purse at home and carry your wallet and keys in a fanny pack or an inside coat or front pants pocket.

• Try not to carry large amounts of cash, and never flash money in public. When possible, use credit cards or checks. If you use an ATM, do so during daylight hours.

• Guard PIN and credit card numbers. If you plan to shop online, use trusted websites and apps.

• When shopping, try to park as close to the stores as possible, and in a well-lit area. Keep your car windows and doors locked – whether driving or parked.

• When going out for the evening, consider leaving lights and a radio or television on in your home. Always lock all doors and windows when you leave. Do not display gifts where they can be seen through windows.

• Save your receipts for gifts and keep a current record of your own valuables including serial numbers, pictures, and distinguishing marks. In the event you do become a victim, having the receipts and information can help detectives recover and return your belongings to you.

• Consider leaving the kids with a sitter while you shop. If that’s not an option, be sure to supervise your children at all times, including in fitting rooms and restrooms. Come up with an action plan that fits your family in the event you are separated. Establish a pre-determined meeting place with your kids and make sure your kids know your phone number to contact you. Don’t use the police to discipline or threaten your kids. Encourage children to ask a police officer or a security officer for help if needed.

• Heading out of town for the holidays? Make it look like you’re home even if you’re away. Have a trusted neighbor or friend pick up your mail and check on your home daily. Avoid posting travel information on social media. The Bossier City Police Department will check homes of residents while they are out of town for the holidays as part of the department‘s Vacation Watch Program. Residents can call 741-8605 to register and patrol officers will check on your home each day.