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Ask the Chief Deputy: Keep valuables safe this holiday season

November 6, 2018

The holiday season is upon us, and while this is a time to gather with family and friends, it’s also the time of year criminals like to steal items.

Imagine for a minute that you just purchased several gifts at your favorite store. You open your vehicle in the parking lot, throw the gifts in your backseat, lock your doors and go back to shopping.

When you later return to your car with more gifts, you notice your car window is broken and all of your gifts are gone. It is an unfortunate event that occurs frequently during the holiday season.

Here are ways to avoid being a victim:

n Do not leave valuables visible in your car

n Park near other vehicles

n Always lock your car and roll up your windows

n Put items in your trunk or any space not visible from outside

Keep your receipts in case you need to file a claim with law enforcement and your insurance company. It is also a good idea to keep receipts separate from the items, as the thieves could use the receipts to “return” the items.

If you do become a victim of theft, call local law enforcement right away so an investigation can begin. Law enforcement will obtain video of the parking area and also check to see if the thieves went back to the store where the items were purchased.

Thieves can also target your home.

Imagine you just got home, wrapped your gifts and put them under your Christmas tree. Your tree is decorated and proudly displayed near a window so neighbors can see it.

You probably see where I’m going with this.

Burglars are also impressed with your tree — especially the gifts under it. Having a Christmas tree that is visible to the public invites thieves to enter your home when you aren’t there.

This is also the time of year that packages get stolen off front porches.

Here are tips to keep your home and gifts secure:

n Always lock your doors at home, whether you are there or not

n Do not display valuables so they are easily seen from outside your home

n Make arrangements with the delivery company when you are expecting a package

n If possible, have your packages delivered to a location not in public view

n If you have cameras, install them so that the sidewalk or roadway can also be seen

Please remain vigilant this holiday season, and take steps to keep you and your valuables safe.

— Chad Clark is chief of patrol operations for the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Email questions to Askpatrolchief@gmail.com

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