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Badge and Bar: An elf's tips to keep your new toys safe
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Alfred the Elf brings you this week’s edition of Badge & Bar. - photo by Erin O. Smith

I, Alfred the Elf, cannot be contained to a shelf. My mischief has spread from Queen City Parkway over to Green Street.

I was looking for Nick Watson when I dropped by The Times just before Christmas. It seems he was still at home sleeping, probably dreaming of sugarplum fairies, but a nice lady let me into the office anyway.

Lo and behold, the newsroom was empty. Nick’s rolly chair looked so comfy and his desk so inviting, with newspapers strewn about along with red- and green-wrapped Hershey’s kisses.

Guessing his password was of course easy; I may be a Gainesville police rookie, but I am trained to crack the case and the answer to this one was “iheartcops.”

So, here I am, bringing you this week’s edition of Badge & Bar. If you haven’t met me yet, check out; I’ve been getting into some shenanigans over there.

And as I sit here eyeing Nick’s company-issued iPad left sitting out with his papers and Christmas cards, let me tell you a little bit about how to keep your new holiday gifts safe from the bad guys.

First, don’t let the bad guys see them (ahem Nick, that means you). Put that iPad in a drawer, under your warm winter coat in the car and away from that big picture window at home that’s missing any kind of privacy shade or drapes.

If the bad guys see your shiny new toys, they will definitely want to break in. And of course lock your doors, which will make it at least a little harder for the burglars to succeed.

One of my favorite tricks, though, is making them think I’m there when I’m not. I put on some jolly music, leave a lamp on and may even have one of my favorite movies playing in the den, like “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” I turn the Christmas tree lights off, though; that’s a fire hazard.

And if I’m away for a few days visiting my good buddy Rudolph, I’ll have another friend pick up my mail and my daily Times so they don’t stack up outside. A pile of newspapers is a sure signal that I’m away and won’t notice if you break in. Of course, you can also call The Times at 770-532-2222 to stop the paper while you’re gone, and I’d recommend that, too.

Another big no-no is leaving all the boxes for your fancy new gadgets at the end of your driveway.

I booked a guy once who admitted he saw that big box that said “52-inch TV” and the other one that said “PlayStation” and that’s when he knew he was going to find a way to break in.

So, take those boxes to your nearest compactor site.

You should also mark all that expensive stuff Santa just brought you with a unique identification number, so if any of it is stolen, we at the police station will have a better idea if the bad guys we bust took your Christmas gifts and/or someone else’s.

Now, I’ll leave this iPad be, but I’m going to go steal some hot cider and those cookies I passed on the way in and see that new publisher I’ve been hearing about.

Nick Watson covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:


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