FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Fairfield Police Department is urging residents to guard against theft and other crimes during the holiday season.
Among the tips are always ensuring that doors and windows are locked in both cars and in houses.
Motorists are urged to shop in daylight hours and if shopping at night park in a well lit area away from vans, trucks with camper shells or cars with tinted windows.
Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside. Do not leave packages or valuables inside your car where they can be seen form the outside. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
Be sure to locate your keys before going to your car.
Police also urge residents to ensure valuables and gifts are out of sight in both vehicles and homes.
Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a store, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need. Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you. Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.
Always carry your driver's license or identification card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use. Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible. Keep cash in your front pocket. Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
Be careful if you carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.
Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con-artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
If possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter. Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you.
Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping. Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom. Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car.
Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.
When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail. Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer. Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied. Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doors and passageways are clear inside your home.
Be sure your Christmas tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves. If you use lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring can cause a fire.
If using an artificial tree, be sure its label reads “Fire Resistant.” While this doesn’t mean it can’t catch fire, it does mean it should resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
If using a live tree, be sure it is fresh (it isn’t already losing needles) and has a new, clean cut on the bottom of the trunk before putting it up.
Turn off the lights when you go to bed or aren’t home. Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.
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 find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.
Donate to a recognized charitable organization.
Also police urge residents to avoid drinking when driving.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.