It is the busiest time of the year for shopping, and the Cookeville Police Department reminds you thieves are busy too.
Lieutenant Anthony Leonard said criminals use the crowded shopping centers to their advantage. Theft is the crime most on the rise during the holidays. Leonard said most of these are vehicle burglaries.
“Everyone’s out shopping and visiting multiple places of business, and typically what happens is the customer will go into a local store, make a purchase, go back to their car and put that purchase maybe in the backseat or the trunk and criminals will use that opportunity,” Leonard said.
Leonard said if the car is unlocked, criminals have easy access to your latest purchase. He said if the doors are locked and the goods are in sight, they may break a window.
“If you do make a purchase and you’re keeping things in your vehicle, keep them out of sight, and out of sight means not just covered by a jacket or a bag but actually completely out of sight because if there is a jacket or a bag in a vehicle a criminal is going to think there is something valuable under that,” Leonard said. “Just by hiding them under maybe a duffel bag or you know your coat in the backseat that doesn’t necessarily prevent that theft.”
Leonard said when there are a lot of people together in one location, altercations are more likely to occur.
“We ask that the best thing you can do is don’t necessarily get involved, but get involved by reporting and being a good witness,” Leonard said. “Get a good description of the people involved. Have a good location for us to let our officers know where to respond. Those things can be very helpful for the officer as they are arriving on scene.”
Leonard said just being aware of your surroundings can go a long way in preventing yourself form becoming a victim of a crime.
“Keeping your eyes out of your phone and paying attention to the things happening around you,” Leonard said. “It will keep you safe and will also help keep others safe as well.”
He said even if you are not shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, you can still become the victim of a crime. Scams online also rise during the holidays.
“Make sure you trust the site you are purchasing from,” Leonard said. “If you’re not sure about that, there are some places that you can get information about that business before you make a purchase, but of course going to the brick-and-mortar stores is always the safest way. Walking in and seeing the clerk at the counter is always the safest way, but if you are going to purchase online just do it from a place that you know and you trust.”