Wondering how to stay safe this
happy holiday season? Here are some actual tips from the police of Fishers, Indiana. Fishers, by the way, was named the #1 city for families by The Learning Channel. (Maybe because they’re too scared to go outside, so they’re inside watching…the Learning Channel?) It was also named one of America’s “friendliest” towns by MSN.com-Forbes. Wikipedia reports the median Fishers family income is $103,176.
But read this advice from the cops and you’d think it’s the third circle of Hell.
I was going to just choose my favorite tips, which include, “Residents should NEVER open the door to a stranger,” and, “Avoid driving alone or at night.” But I also love the tip suggesting that when you go to your car after shopping and your hands are full of packages, “Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.”
Because apparently in Fishers the (friendly?) thieves are so fast and ubiquitous, they’re just waiting for that Abercrombie bag to hit the asphalt and — whoosh! — goodbye skinny jeans, hello police report.
Anyway, it DOES make sense to be aware of your surroundings. Beyond that, you can decide for yourself how much of this makes any sense at all, in terms of actual danger and actual safety. (Boldface mine…because I couldn’t resist):
Safety Tips from Fishers Police
The holiday season is always a special time of year. It is also a time when busy people can become distracted and vulnerable to theft and other acts of crime. We encourage residents and visitors to be careful, prepared, and aware of their surroundings. If you see something that does not look or feel right please call 911 immediately. Please share this information with family, friends and neighbors…. [A]ll of us at The Fishers Police Department wish you a safe, happy, and peaceful holiday season.
- Avoid driving alone or at night.
- Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
- If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.
- Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.
- Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.
- Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
- Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. 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 prior to going to your car.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- When approaching and leaving your vehicle be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
- Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM)
- If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located near a police station, 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.
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
- Dress casually and comfortably.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.
- Only carry 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 your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
- Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas and public transportation locations.
- 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. 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 bathroom.
- 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.
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.
- 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.
- Contact the Fishers Police at (317) 595-3300 and/or fill out a Vacation Watch Form to notify us of your vacant home.
- 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.
- Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.
- Never place wrapping paper in your fireplace.
Strangers at Your Door
- Residents should NEVER open the door to a stranger.
- Residents should announce that they are in the house and call 911 immediately.
- 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.
- Donate to a recognized charitable organization.
Immediately call 911 to report suspicious activity.
If that doesn’t get you in a holiday mood, what will? A PSA about elevated cholesterol?
I get that the cops want to keep crime down and feel they’re being helpful. But it is not helpful to act as if a safe neighborhood is a neighborhood under siege. And it is not helpful to make it seem as if going about one’s ordinary day — shopping after dark, putting bags on the ground, answering the door — are crazy-dangerous activities that smart people should avoid. That’s turning everyday life into a horror movie.
And you might miss meeting the nicest people. – L