SCMPD shares holiday safety tips for homes, shopping and mail

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department is sharing information to keep you and your belongings safe this holiday season.

Wednesday is the last day to send priority mail through the United States Postal Service for Christmas delivery, but Metro says it's important to know when a delivery is scheduled to arrive.

SCMPD Advanced Police Officer Sharif Lockett suggests letting a neighbor know you're expecting a delivery, and then asking him or her to pick it up for you. He said delivery can also be rerouted to another address or to the post office for pick up.

Something Lockett said even empty, unwrapped gift boxes left outside can make a home a target for thieves.

"That's basically just advertising what you got for the holidays," he said. "So, a criminal may see a box for a very large TV and think, 'Oh there's a large TV in this house.' When this person is not home, the person may try to break into the residence."

If you are traveling out of town, he says packages delivered and left outside are an obvious sign no one is home.

Lockett said there are a number of other ways to protect your home while you're away.

First, if you have a burglar alarm, make sure it's working and set it whenever you leave, even if you're only going somewhere for a short time. Lockett said if you have a porch light, keep it on at night and use a timer to automatically turn it on and off. If you have more than one car, leave one parked in front of your house or in a driveway, so people think you're home.

If you'd like an extra patrol while you're gone, Metro can make that happen as well.

"If someone wants extra patrol to their residence if they'll be out of town, they can put their house on an extra patrol list, so officers will know to drive by, check it out, make sure everything is good," Lockett said. "If you leave your contact information, if something seems out of place, an officer will give you a call."

Lockett said to call your precinct's crime prevention officer to be added to the list.

  • Crime Prevention Officers:
    • West Chatham Precinct Cpl. Darlene Jones (912) 652-6560
    • Downtown Precinct APO Marvin Williams (912) 525-3100 ext. 2713
    • Central Precinct Cpl. Barry Lewis (912) 525-3114 or Cpl. Sherrell Brown (912) 525-3100 ext. 3949
    • Southside Precinct APO Thomas Norris (912) 351-3497
    • Islands Precinct APO Sharif Lockett (912) 525-3100 ext. 3008

The department also has a special operation called the Jingle Bell Patrol to patrol shopping districts and businesses. Lockett said the operation is mainly focused on the Southside, Islands, and Whitefield precincts, but there are patrols spread through the city. He said this helps those officers deal with shopping crimes quickly, and keeps others free to handle other calls.

"If a shoplifting incident or some type of theft or other incident occurs in that area, those officers will actually take the call," he said. "That way, it doesn't tie up an officer who's working the street or neighborhood, so they have more time to do other things."

He reminds people to never leave purchases visible inside your car and to remember to lock your vehicle. Police also suggest carrying only a small amount of cash when shopping, keeping purses close to the body and wallets in front pockets.

Lockett also said pedestrians and drivers should be particularly aware and careful in busy parking lots to prevent accidents.

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