Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety and Risk Reduction Tips

The holiday season is an opportunity for criminals to engage in crime.  With holiday travel, shopping, and preparations, more people are out and about and typically carry more money and valuables than during other times.  It’s important to be mindful of safety during these busy times and to take all precautions necessary to reduce the risks of becoming a victim.

Precautions can be taken to increase personal safety, such as walking with others whenever possible, staying aware of your surroundings, traveling in well-lit and populated areas, refraining from texting or talking on the phone while walking, keeping cash and valuables hidden while on the street, refraining from using earbuds or headphones in both ears and trusting your instincts.  While always important and highly recommended, these precautions become even more critical when there are fewer people on campus, such as during a holiday recess.  Campus Safety will continue to provide services such as a transport to assist individuals in making safe plans.  Those leaving for the winter recess should lock their rooms, offices, and windows and either take computers and electronics with them or secure these devices in their rooms before leaving.

Campus Safety has compiled holiday safety tips to assist students, faculty, and staff in safeguarding their property and keep themselves safe, whether traveling or remaining in the area throughout the break period.  Please consider the following risk reduction measures.

For Room, Office and Home When You Are Away

  • Be sure all your windows and doors are locked before you leave.
  • Valuables and displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors.
  • When possible, take valuables with you or lock them up.
  • Give your home an occupied appearance by leaving the lights on or using an automatic timer to turn inside and outside lights on and off.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to watch your house or apartment, bring in your mail/newspapers daily, and to park in your driveway or parking space from time to time.
  • Arrange to have snow shoveled (if necessary) while you are gone.

For Road Trips and in Parking Areas

  • Let friends and family know when you are leaving, when you expect to arrive, what route you are taking, and if you plan on making stops along the way to include overnight stays.
  • If your car breaks down, stay with the car and accept no rides. If someone stops to help, ask them to call the police. Use your cell phone if signal range allows.
  • Never leave your vehicle running while unattended.
  • Fuel your vehicle during daylight hours and maintain at least ½ tank of gas.
  • Never leave valuables on the seat of your vehicle or in plain view, as this creates a temptation for thieves.  If you must leave something in your vehicle, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
  • Always lock your vehicle and keep the windows closed, even if you will only be gone for a few minutes.
  • Park in a highly visible, well-lit space. It may be daylight when you arrive at your location but dark when you come out.
  • Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows where people can hide.
  • Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked. You don’t want to spend unnecessary time walking around the parking lot.
  • When returning to your vehicle, carry your keys in hand and be ready to unlock the door and enter as quickly as possible.
  • Avoid texting or talking on the phone while walking so that you can see where you’re going and who is around you.
  • Know your surroundings. Look around the parking lot and your vehicle for suspicious activity. If you notice suspicious behavior, inform security or the police immediately.
  • Keep a secure hold on your bag, backpack, and parcels. Do not put them down or on the car to open the door.
  • Do not approach your car alone if there is suspicious activity, behavior, or circumstances.
  • When you enter your vehicle, lock the doors and start the engine immediately.
  • Use your key FOB's “panic” or “alarm” button if you feel fearful.

Using the ATM

  • If you must use an ATM, choose one inside a bank, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.
  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings when you use an ATM.
  • If you notice anything unusual, cancel your transaction, pocket your card, and leave immediately. Get to safety and call the police.
  • When you arrive at the ATM, have everything ready (deposit slips, card). When you have completed your transaction, pocket your cash and card immediately.
  • When using a drive-up ATM, keep the car running, your doors locked, and all windows except the driver’s side window rolled up.
  • Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone standing near you.
  • Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.
  • Treat your ATM card like cash and guard it carefully. Never write your PIN on the card or give account numbers or card information over the phone unless you know exactly to whom you speak.

While Out Shopping

  • Stay alert and be aware of everything around you. Take a minute to observe who may be watching you. Criminals often target people who are distracted.
  • Don’t use shortcuts through alleys or walkways; stay in well-lit and well-traveled areas.
  • When possible, shop with friends or relatives - there is safety in numbers. 
  • As you shop, be alert in crowded places. Pickpockets prefer jammed aisles, elevators, and public transportation stops, especially at rush hour.
  • If you must take a wallet or purse, carry it close to your body with the clasp nearest you and be alert.  They are prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, buses, and other rapid transit.  Never leave your wallet or purse
unattended in a shopping cart or on a counter.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash – use a debit card, credit card, or check.
  • Cash should be carried in a front pocket. Do not display large sums of cash.
  • Make a list of all your credit/debit cards and their numbers, and keep it at home. This will assist you and the police if they are stolen.  Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused.
  • Be alert for suspicious activity and behavior in parking lots.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Criminals may try various methods of distracting you to take your money or belongings.
  • If you feel unsafe, ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.

Buying or Selling Online Marketplaces (OfferUp, Craigslist or Facebook)

  • Never share personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, banking info, or email; instead, use the marketplace’s messaging or email communications platform.
  • Check a seller’s or buyer’s ratings or comments to ensure they have not had any significant prior issues.
  • If a buyer or seller seems overly desperate, too persistent, and aggressive in any way, don’t go through with the purchase or sale.
  • Never invite buyers into your home.  Insist on meeting somewhere.
  • Never go to a seller’s home.  Insist on meeting somewhere.
  • Don't meet in a secluded place to buy or sell.  Select a very public place and bring someone with you.
  • It’s OK to ask many questions about the item, request additional pictures, and follow up with research about the responses.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true. 
  • Trust your instincts!

When There is a Stranger at Your Door

  • Be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.
  • It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes, although no charity is involved.
  • Ask for their identification and determine how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.
  • Donate to a recognized charitable organization.
  • Criminals sometimes work in teams – while one distracts you at the front door, another enters your residence via a back door to steal.
Report an issue - Last updated: 11/17/2023