Safe holidays

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The Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without a few Grinches trying to spoil the celebration.

As much as the holiday season is the season of giving, it is also the season of taking. Across the country there have been complaints of thieves stealing packages from people’s doorsteps. In rural areas break-and-enters have become more common with thieves aiming for high value items or cash.

Here in St. Albert there have been instances of shoplifting making the news, and of thieves stealing purses from parking lots at the grocery store. St. Albert has seen many stolen vehicles this year, as well as stolen licence plates. There’s also been at least one instance of identity fraud in the city recently and just this week RCMP released details of a theft from a parking garage.

It’s enough to sour the seasonal spirit. Haven’t these humbugs heard of “peace on earth and goodwill toward men?”

Despite St. Albert being one of the safest communities in Alberta, crime still happens here, particularly during the holiday season.

The RCMP crime reduction unit has offered tips to avoid getting scammed or having items stolen. They recommend making sure the clerk only swipes your payment card once when shopping. Keep an eye on personal items and if you must store purchases in your vehicle, keep them in a locked trunk.

Shoppers should also be diligent with their online purchases, making sure to avoid making purchases on unsecured websites and making sure to select signature on delivery when making a purchase so their gift isn’t left in the cold unattended.

They also recommend having a friend check on your home if you are away on vacation. Keep your lights on a timer to avoid being a target for break-ins.

Don’t keep valuables in your vehicle, it’s an easy target for thieves who may be tempted to “smash and dash.” It’s also a good idea not to leave your car running unattended. Cars and trucks are stolen every winter that have been left running to warm up with the keys inside.

Keep your head up when shopping in public and be aware of your surroundings. Shoppers who are distracted by their phone are often targeted by thieves.

We can also be diligent in keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in our neighbourhoods and reporting information to the RCMP.

It’s a shame that people need to take such care to avoid crime at Christmas, but it’s now become a fact of life. Although it is a time of overwhelming goodwill, there are still those who want to take advantage of the season of high spending, by any means necessary. This holiday season, keep an eye out for any usual activity and take the necessary precautions to avoid becoming a victim of theft. Stay safe and have happy holidays.

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St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.