WINNSBORO — The Winnsboro Department of Public Safety and the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department want all area residents to have a happy holiday season.
This is a busy time of year for law enforcement because when so many people are shopping and receiving gifts, that creates a target rich environment for criminals.
The departments want citizens to be mindful of their surroundings to lessen the chances that they become the victims of crime this time of year.
Corporal Ron Mull with the sheriff’s department says that shoppers should stay off their cell phones as they are walking to their vehicles and when they are carrying packages.When talking on the phone, the person is distracted and not as aware of his or her surroundings. That can make them a more appealing target to a criminal.
“Look at cars and I sometimes even look under cars as I approach,” Mull said.
Lock your purse, phone, pod and other valuables in the trunk out of sight. Park in well lit areas and if possible try to park in view of a security camera.
“The sheriff’s office does not want anyone to be a victim,” Mull said. “Instead we want folks to be safe and mindful and have a happy, safe holiday. Please be as mindful and as safety conscious as possible.”
Officers strongly advise people leave vacation plans off of Facebook. Deputies also suggest that vacationers do not post photos from a vacation until they have returned home from the trip.
Also, never leave status updates that advertise one will be out of town. Persons who travel this holiday should remember if they have to be away for some reason to have a neighbor get their mail or request the post office hold their mail and paper for them.
Put lights on timers and radio and television on timers to make it appear the home is occupied.
Other tips involve what to do with merchandise once it enters one’s home.
“If you have a package coming to your home, let a trusted neighbor know to be on the lookout for it. There have been problems in the Columbia area with people stealing packages off of people’s porches,” Mull said.
In many neighborhoods would be criminals cruise around looking at the boxes on the curbside to determine which houses to hit.
D.J. Wilson with the sheriffs department advises that persons peel labels off of items they receive in the mail.
“Be aware of persons at the trash dump when you are there and if anyone looks out of place or that they are paying particular attention to the garbage being disposed of,” Wilson said. “Put all boxes away, so you do not advertise what gifts you received for Christmas. Be vigilant in your neighborhood and report suspicious activities to the sheriff’s department at 635-4141.”
The department wishes all residents of Fairfield County to have a joyful, safe holiday season.