SAFETY ALERT Part 2 – by Terry Howard

A personal action plan for the holidays!

Picture this: There’s a beautifully manicured house a few blocks from yours. The hedges are lit up with Christmas lights. A new BMW is parked in the driveway. Just outside the door, there’s a nice 11’/24’ picture of your neighbor’s son on a poster donning his black and yellow basketball uniform. All is well right? Well, yesterday you learned that the house, which was empty at the time, was burglarized. 

Question: Based on this actual description, what were the clues for potential burglars that the house was there for the taking? (The answer is at the end of this article).

Home Safety:

Be extra cautious about locking your windows and doors when leaving for any length of time. Set indoor and outdoor lights on timers and consider doing the same with a television or radio to make it appear that someone is home.

Never leave valuable objects in plain view from any window. Close blinds, shutters, drapes and curtains because a burglar can see those items. Know your neighbors. Neighbor watching out for neighbors help keep an eye out for suspicious activities

Now there’s one unfortunate side-effect of our buy-everything-online lifestyle: package theft. A box left on your front stoop makes an easy target for “porch pirates,” some of whom follow delivery trucks and scoop up packages moments after they’re dropped off.  So how do you protect yourself?

  • Have a security camera installed pointing to your front porch and driveway
  • Opt in for the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery Program
  • Put in a “delivery hold” request in the post office while you are on vacation
  • Consider alternative delivery options – your workplace, etc.
  • Enlist the help of neighbors to pick up your package

Going shopping?

Preparedness starts before you leave home, so have a plan. Know (and let others) know where you are going; mall, store, church, etc. Most malls have floor plans displayed at entrances so study them carefully and see where the exits are.

Shop during daylight hours when possible. If you must shop at night bring someone with you. Dress casually, avoid wearing expensive jewelry and carrying large amounts of cash.

When you pull into the parking lot try to park as close to the building as possible and in a well-lit area. Take note of where you parked. Back into the space, then lock up your valuables. Look around before getting out.

Stay alert to the surroundings and glance around for possible suspicious people, vehicles, etc. Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells or cars with tinted windows. Trust your instincts – if something just doesn’t feel right, drive off!

Once inside, find out where security personnel are stationed. Stay alert to being followed by strangers and decline their offers to assist you. Avoid leaving your cart unattended to with your pocketbook inside. If possible, avoid going to the restroom alone and never allow your child to go inside alone. 

Now once you return from shopping, prior to getting inside your vehicle look inside and around it before unlocking the door and climbing in. Avoid “friendly gestures” from strangers to help unload your cart. And if you are a man and see a single woman pushing a cart to her vehicle, be willing to stand visibly outside your vehicle until she safely drives off.



The giveaway was the poster of the son, the basketball player. The burglar, who was later caught, revealed that he simply looked up the son’s basketball schedule and made his move once he learned that the son had a home game at his school two miles away. He figured that the occupants would be attending the game and would not be home! And he was right.



Terry Howard

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