Police departments in the area want the public to know about travel and crime during the holiday season
Nov 26 — With holiday shopping and parties coming, local law enforcement says residents should take precautions against thefts, scams and porch hackers while making arrangements to have a driver sober if they consume alcohol away from home.
“Always have a designated driver when drinking alcohol,” Decatur police spokeswoman Irene Cardenas-Martinez said. “Also consider adding an emergency contact to your driver’s license in case of an emergency on the road.”
Lawrence County Sheriff’s spokesman Tim Sandlin said property crimes and theft are generally among the most frequently reported crimes in his area during the holiday season.
“Theft and property crime are always a concern this time of year,” Sandlin said. “When shopping, be sure to lock things up. Keep your cars locked, put away gifts, and don’t leave anything in sight.”
Sandlin said he had heard of package thefts that had occurred from homes in urban areas across the state, but that was not a problem in Lawrence County.
“(Package thefts) don’t really happen here,” Sandlin said. “Last year there were no reported package thefts. It is quite difficult for thieves to interfere and commit these crimes here in these rural areas.”
Limestone County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Michelle Williamson said parcel thefts from porches were more common in Athens and other cities.
Package thefts have taken place in Decatur, and Cardenas-Martinez has called the culprits who commit these crimes “porch pirates.”
“You have to schedule the delivery of packages when you are at home,” Cardenas-Martinez said. “Follow them online and consider installing a security camera.”
Williamson said people need to be careful when shopping in public and even in their own neighborhood.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” said Williamson. “Make sure you always lock your car, even at night when you are at home, make sure your car is locked.”
She said it was not a good idea to leave Christmas presents inside vehicles.
“It doesn’t matter whether the gifts are visible or not, we all know that people breaking into cars can get tricky and try to get into the trunk,” Williamson said.
Even though scams occur throughout the year, Sandlin and Williamson said they are common during the holiday season.
“Scams are always a problem. They tend to increase during this time of year,” Sandlin said. “You have to be very careful when dealing with things online and on social media. We always warn people of this stuff.”
Sandlin said scams can usually be identified by how the scammer comes up with them.
“Well, in general, if there is high pressure or if there are time constraints, I would say questioning,” Sandlin said. “(Have) a healthy dose of skepticism if it sounds too good to be true. You need to question it and you need to check with local law enforcement to confirm if it’s legitimate or not.”
Williamson said a common scam involves crooks posing as relatives of the victims they call, demanding money to get them out of jail.
“A lot of times (the crooks) call our seniors,” Williamson said. “Scams happen all year round, but they skip more during the holidays because of the spirit of giving.”
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reported a new scam this week when a deputy received a call informing him he was a “Publisher’s Clearing House winner.” The scammer then asked the deputy to buy a $ 300 prepaid gift card to verify himself.
The sheriff’s office reported the incident on Facebook on Monday and urged people not to give out credit card numbers, bank accounts or routing numbers and that a request for gift cards is a strong indicator of it. ‘a scam.
Williamson said to be careful when people call to ask for money.
“If someone calls you and asks for money, don’t give it to them,” Williamson said. “Ask them for information and call the local law enforcement. Nine times out of 10, they (the crooks) won’t have any information to give you.”
—[email protected] or 256-340-2438.