Officers: Holiday time for taking precautions

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — Holidays are a prime time for crime, and local law enforcement officials are recommending residents take precautions to thwart criminals.

Officials said taking simple precautions before leaving on holiday trips such as locking all doors, leaving a light on, having a neighbor collect mail and notifying your local law enforcement agency of your absence can curb holiday crime.

Natchez Interim Police Chief Danny White said NPD is beefing up its patrol for the holidays. He said officers will be checking areas with a lot of crime and recommends people notify the department if they are going on vacation.

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“We’ll have guys out there patrolling especially for the holidays,” he said. “I intend to be out there, too.”

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said people should also not leave boxes for computers, televisions or other valuable items out for trash pickup.

“That tells criminals you definitely have something valuable in your home,” he said.

Mayfield recommends tearing up the boxes and putting them in black trash bags.

Mayfield said people who might be drinking at holiday parties should also make arrangements ahead of time to have a designated driver.

Mayfield said local neighborhood watches should be on the lookout for criminals around vacationing neighbors’ homes.

“It’s really a matter of taking care of each other in the neighborhoods,” he said.

Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis said Vidalia residents can come by the department and fill out a form to be on the department’s holiday security checklist. People are asked to put when they will be leaving and coming back into town, as well as anyone that is authorized to be at the house and their vehicle description.

“We have solved a lot of cases and stopped a lot of potential criminals by checking houses on the checklist,” Lewis said.

Lewis said residents can come by the department all year round and request that an officer check their home while they’re on vacation.

Kathleen Stevens, the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office public information officer, said Sheriff Randy Maxwell recommends keeping a list of credit and debit card numbers because identity theft is rampant during the holidays.

Maxwell also recommends shopping with another person and keeping car keys in a jacket pocket instead of a purse in case the purse is stolen. Maxwell said cash should be kept in a person’s front pants pocket so it is not an easy target for pickpockets.

Ferriday Police Chief Johnny Evans said FPD will have the same number of patrolman for the holidays, but the department has one patrolman designated for just security checks of residences and businesses.

Mayfield recommends people using common sense and being alert around the holidays because there is so much crime.

“Just use your common sense,” he said. “Think about what could happen.”