Thursday, December 3, 2009


By Michelle Simonsen, true crime writer and victim's rights advocate

Tis the season to be jolly? Not everyone.

Crime rates soar during the winter months, specifically the holiday season. Each year criminals get more ingenious and with the current recession and high unemployment rates, people have become more desperate than usual.

Some of these safety tips are no brainers, but with the hustle and bustle and craziness of the holidays, you’d be surprised how many people become preoccupied and throw caution to the wind.

Criminals and con artists aren’t going away, but you don’t have to be a victim:

  • Avoid carrying cash when shopping. Use a credit or debit card instead. There are people who have mastered the art of pick pocketing. Once your cash is stolen, it’s gone for good. At least with a credit or debit card, you have recourse. If you must carry cash, do not store it in your purse or back pocket. Keep it in your front pocket.

  • When shopping, never leave your purse open or unattended, even for one second. It takes less than a second to be robbed.

  • Always know where your nearest exit is. Remember the 2007 mall shooting in Omaha that left nine dead? The odds of this occurring are rare, but wouldn’t you rather be safer than sorry?

  • Never use your remote keyless entry to locate your car. A perpetrator’s playground is a parking lot. You don’t want them knowing where your car is, or which direction you are headed.

  • Keep everything in your car out of sight. Remove your Ipod, cell phone, CDs, etc., from plain view. Always put your purchases and any other valuables in your trunk.

  • Once you are in your vehicle, immediately lock your doors. Do not linger around talking on your phone, text messaging, or rummaging through your purse and belongings. Your distraction becomes their moment of opportunity.

  • Use only well lit parking lots and if possible, refrain from using parking garages.

  • Avoid wearing showy jewelry or any other similar items of value.

  • Shop with a friend. A criminal is less likely to target you if you are not alone. There is truth to the old saying, "safety in numbers".

  • BOTTOM LINE: PAY ATTENTION! We are all multi-tasking and distracted this time of year. It's easy to get caught up and forget to listen and watch what is going on around us. Defense is the best offense to crime.


Michelle Simonsen is a victim's rights advocate, crime analyst and blogger for "Michelle Says So", founder of the grassroots consumer boycott, "Boycott Aruba--Justice for Natalee Holloway", an advisory board member of "Survivors in Action", and is a contributing writer for "Now Public", and "True Crime Talk".

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