Police increasing presence for holiday season

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Officers with the Poplar Bluff Police Department are increasing their presence this holiday season to help prevent the Grinch from ruining anyone’s Christmas.

“As the holiday season is well upon us, the Poplar Bluff Police Department is working hard to protect you and your property,” Chief Danny Whiteley said in a news release.

In the period from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, Whiteley said, additional officers will be visible around businesses, parking lots and residential areas, throughout the entire city to prevent crimes of opportunity.

“Officers will be patrolling these areas, as well as walking through businesses, in an attempt to deter crime and increase safety for the community,” Whiteley said.

More than 40 additional eight-hour “holiday patrol” shifts will be staggered throughout this time period to increase visibility and service, he said.

“As always, we need the help of the public to provide information on suspicious activity,” Whiteley said. “Be diligent, help watch out for your neighbors and the elderly, and if you see something, say something.”

Whiteley also offered some crime prevention tips for the season:

• Always park in well-lit areas and park close to the entrance of the store or business.

• Don’t talk on a cellphone when walking to and from your vehicle. Keep your full attention on your surroundings. It is a distraction that makes you vulnerable to robbers, and your cellphone itself is a tempting target.

• Don’t electronically unlock your vehicle until you are within door opening distance. This helps stop a thief from getting into the car and waiting to strike when you least expect it.

• If you are ready to leave the business and feel uneasy about entering the parking lot or garage by yourself, stay in the store and wait for a friend before exiting.

• Do not open your car door to anyone in a parking lot or garage. If you believe you are in danger, call 911 immediately.

• Always lock your car and residence, even if you are away for only a few moments.

• Do not leave valuables — gifts, cellphones, purse or clothing — in open view in your car. Take valuables with you, lock them in your trunk or cover them in an unobtrusive way. 

• Leave lights turned on both inside and outside your residence after dark. Criminals don’t like bright places.

• If you will be away from home for several days, make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail and newspapers. An overstuffed mailbox is a sure sign no one is home, and burglars are tempted to check those envelopes for holiday gifts.

• Keep your purse close to your body.

• If the purse has long straps, shorten them.

• If possible, avoid carrying a large purse when shopping. 

• Carry only the credit cards you intend to use, leave the others behind.

• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use checks or check cards.

• Use ATMs wisely. Have the card ready before approaching the machine, and use ATMs in high traffic areas.

• Be aware of the environment. Don’t walk or park in poorly lit areas. Don’t take shortcuts through wooded areas.

• Have car keys ready before leaving the office, store or mall.

• If you believe someone is following you, cross the street, switch directions, walk into a store or restaurant and ask someone to call the police.

• Outside of the mall, stick to well-lit, well-traveled streets, walkways and parking areas for both walking and parking.

• Don’t flash large amounts of cash or offer tempting targets for theft, such as expensive jewelry or clothing.

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