Sheriff gives safety tips for holiday season; Also reminds parents to be cautious about children’s activities during school break

Posted: December 6th, 2013 | Filed under: Announcements, News Releases, Tips & Resources

With a child in one hand and bags in the other, people shopping during the heightened excitement and stress of Christmas and New Year’s activities can be targets for criminals, St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann said, and they should remember to pay attention to their surroundings in and outside of stores.

He also reminded parents to be cautious about their children’s activities during holiday school breaks.

Sheriff Pohlmann said whether St. Bernard residents are in the parish or elsewhere during the holidays as they shop for gifts or visit others, they should take precautions to avoid becoming a victim of theft or robbery as they go about their activities.

“It’s possible someone may be watching to take advantage of people distracted while busily rushing from place to place,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.

“Holidays are a time when people often are on the go and could let their guard down. Just remember to follow some common sense safety tips to reduce the chances of anything going wrong.’’

Here is some advice for having a safe holiday time, Sheriff Pohlmann said:

Pay attention to where you park while shopping and, at night park only in areas that are well-lit, and then lock all doors. Once in a store, men should protect their wallets from pickpockets and women should remember not to leave their purses unattended in shopping carts and don’t put them down on counters or floors where they can be taken.

Escort children to a restroom because minors could be photographed, molested or, worst of all, abducted if left alone in public restrooms. If shopping in a large store or mall establish a meeting place in case parents and children become separated.

If possible, all parties should have cell phones to contact one another. Tell children in advance that if they become separated from you they should go only to a store clerk or security officer for help, and not to a stranger who doesn’t work in the store.

When leaving a store for a vehicle, scan the parking lot for any suspicious activities, people standing in a group in one area or sitting in a vehicle watching patrons leave. At night, you may want to ask a store officer to escort you. If walking alone, leave from a door nearest your parked vehicle, have your vehicle keys in hand and, once inside, lock the doors before leaving your parking space.

Also, when children are out of school for holiday breaks, parents need to be proactive and ask where they will be and establish times for checking in,just as they would in summer. Cell phones are the best method of directly staying in touch with teen-age minors who are away from their parents, but if they are going to another teen-ager’s home parents should insist on knowing the telephone number of an adult who will be there.