Palatka police offer Christmas safety tips
With a new spin on the classic song, “12 Days of Christmas,” the Palatka Police Department created their version with the “12 Days of Crime Prevention” to offer tips on ways residents can protect themselves and their homes during the holiday season.
Police Capt. Matt Newcomb said the tips are part of Chief Jason Shaw’s focus to continue outreach programs in the community.
“This is a part of (Shaw’s) plan to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community,” Newcomb said.
Traditionally this time of year, Newcomb said, the police department sees a spike in property crimes, such as theft and burglary.
Starting today, the department will post tips on their social media page each day for a specific topic. Newcomb said the department would also send emails to residents registered with the department.
With topics and tips posted during the weekday, Newcomb said he hopes local businesses, churches and civic groups will print the emails and post the tips in visible locations to spread the message to residents without internet access.
Today’s tip, Newcomb said, focuses on placement of Christmas trees.
“Years ago, it was traditional to place the tree in front of those big double pane windows and people would drive by and look at the decorated trees,” Newcomb said. “Now that’s an opportunity for someone to see all the presents placed under the tree and potentially target the home.”
Other topics include safe shopping techniques at stores, shopping through social media sites, online shopping, scams, delivery of packages, vehicle security, home security, securing businesses, documentation of electronics and other big gifts, garbage disposal and neighborhood awareness.
Newcomb said when making purchases online or through social media, or donating to an organization, be careful where personal information is being sent.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Newcomb said. “For online sales, shop at well known retailers and double check spelling of websites.”
Newcomb said scams increase during the holidays as people take advantage of the feeling of goodwill during the season.
“(Scammers) tug at your heart with foundations or support groups asking for donations,” Newcomb said. “Don’t give personal information over the phone, and if you think it is a scam, it probably is.”
Before and after Christmas, Newcomb said, the department asks residents to be aware of activity in their neighborhoods.
“If someone you’ve never seen before is driving around and looking at houses, call us,” Newcomb said. “Or if there is a group of kids that don’t belong in the neighborhood, let us know and we will come check it out.”
Anyone who would like a digital version of the tips and topics for the 12 Days of Crime Prevention can call the police department at 329-0115.