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Police urge residents to stay wary while shopping, protect homes
Tips will keep you from being a victim
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Tips against crime
At home
Residents going out of town for the holidays can contact the Gainesville Police Department or Hall County Dispatch at 770-534-5251 to set up a patrol of their residence.
Be cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your house or apartment, even for a few minutes.
Don’t display holiday gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway. Store gifts before you go away on a holiday trip.
If you go out for the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television so the house or apartment appears to be occupied.
Participate in Operation Identification and mark your valuables with a unique identification number.
If you take a holiday trip away from your home, have some interior lights activated by an automatic timer. Have a neighbor or family member watch your house, shovel new snow, pick up the mail and newspaper and park his or her motor vehicle in your driveway from time to time.
Immediately after the holidays, mark new gifts with an identification number and record new serial numbers.
Be wary of strangers soliciting for charitable donations. They may attempt to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays. Ask for identification, how donated funds are used and if contributions are tax deductible.
Test your smoke detectors.
Use only fire resistant ornaments on a holiday tree and make sure electric lights are in good working order. Don’t leave the lights on overnight or when you are away from home.
Avoid leaving boxes from purchases, especially TVs, VCRs and computers, out on the curb for trash pickup.

When shopping
Shop before dark if possible, and coordinate shopping trips with a friend. Never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient it is.
Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Keep you vehicle’s doors locked and windows closed.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card or debit card when possible.
To discourage purse-snatchers, don’t overburden yourself with packages. Have your purchases delivered whenever practical.
Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back trouser pocket.
Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if you become separated. They should never go into a parking lot alone.
Gainesville Police Department Crime Prevention Unit

With a recent uptick in home invasions and burglaries in Hall County, police officials are warning residents to keep their eyes open during the holiday season, especially when leaving home or shopping.

“This time of year is easy for people to fall victims of crime, and during the holiday season we tend to see property crimes somewhat increase,” said Gainesville Police Department officer Kevin Holbrook. “This may tend to play especially true with our current economic situation.”

Hall County sheriff’s deputies handled several burglary cases during the last week, including one that led to five arrests after a home invasion.

“The victim was home and alert and saw the person in the yard and was able to call 911 and stay on the phone until a deputy got there,” Col. Jeff Strickland said.

“In another case, alert neighbors on Apachee Circle saw suspicious activity and got a good vehicle description and through awesome teamwork with local Oakwood police, we were able to spot the vehicle and pull it over.”

Though sheriff’s deputies expect an increase in residential burglaries during the holiday season and during an economic downturn, recent incidents are a slight increase over the norm, he said.

“Investigators are working around the clock on burglary cases, and this year alone we’ve put over 140 individuals in jail for burglary,” Strickland said. “The crime suppression unit also maps crimes and looks for emerging trends to determine where we should patrol. If we see a pattern, we move the entire unit into that area to deter burglaries with high-visibility patrols.”

Strickland declined to say which areas are seeing an increase in burglaries but urged residents in subdivisions to be especially careful.

“There are crimes of opportunity where burglaries take advantage of lawn equipment left in an open carport, valuables left out in the car or items left in outbuildings behind the house,” he said. “Make sure you lock your doors and set the alarm system every time.”

Cash, jewelry and electronics were the main targets in recent burglaries, Holbrook noted. When decorating for the holidays, residents should hide anything that can be seen from outside.

“It is important to make sure you don’t advertise yourself as a victim,” he said. “Everyone likes to place their Christmas tree in front of a window and leave the blinds/curtains open for everyone to see. If doing this please make sure that you cannot see gifts, televisions or valuables from outside.”

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