By Kay Stephenson, VHCA Board Vice President
Some of us shop online, some go to the mall, and some patronize small local businesses. Wherever you do your shopping or celebrate the holidays, APD Zone 6 Commander Major Peek has offered us some thoughts on safety.
First, he wants us to know that APD has implemented their 2016 Holiday Plan. The plan consists of moving administrative officers into the field so that everyone has a part in patrolling and keeping our streets safe.
For those who shop online and are not generally at home during normal delivery hours, he suggests having packages shipped to a location where someone will be available. This could be your office or a neighbor who works from home. Around the holidays APD sees an increase in thefts of packages left on porches by delivery companies. Here in Virginia-Highland we are very fortunate that two local businesses (Morningside Mini-Storage and Urban Body Studios) have offered to provide a safe package delivery service. Find details here.
At the mall or when visiting multiple shops, don’t leave bags and packages in plain sight in your car. And if you carry a big armload of items to the trunk and then plan to do more shopping, you might consider taking the extra couple of minutes to move your vehicle. Criminals often watch for potential victims who place items in the trunk and then return to the mall or a different store.
When you are out and about, you may find you need to fill up at the gas station. Major Peek suggests you do not leave a purse or briefcase on the passenger seat, and remove keys and put them in your pocket. Recently there have been many reports of criminals who sneak up on the passenger side of the vehicle while you are focused on the gas pump. They open the passenger door and steal the bag, or worse, slide into the driver’s seat and make off with your car.
Some final tips for those who may be patronizing bars and clubs during the holiday season, he urges everyone to guard their drinks so no one can add something to it. Also, do not assume that someone met through social media is safe. Always take a companion with you to meet someone you only know through social media, and consider making the first few dates double-dates. If you meet someone new at a club, do not take that person home with you or accept a ride from someone you have just met. Major Peek reminds us that these people should be considered strangers until you get to know them over time.
For most of us these tips seem obvious, but sadly Atlanta PD sees similar incidents go wrong too often. As always, please help the police by calling 911 and reporting any suspicious and criminal activity immediately. Do not engage with criminals but allow officers to handle the situation. For more safety tips visit the Virginia-Highland Security Patrol (aka FBAC) website safety tips pages.