Holiday crime prevention advice from MPD

I told MPD that I would help get the word out about crime tips where possible either here on the blog or on the Petworth News Facebook page (you do follow the Facebook page, right?). So without further ado, crime prevention tips for the holiday season from the Metropolitan Police Department (h/t Lt. DK Augustine, PSA 409).

As the holidays are coming up MPD anticipates more valuables being left in cars, more packages being delivered and sitting on porches and people traveling. Here's some tips to help residents:

If You Are Traveling
Get an automatic timer for your lights. Ask a neighbor to watch your home, shovel snow, and park in the driveway from time to time. Don't forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped. If it piles up, it's a sure sign you're gone.

If You Are Shopping
Stay alert and be aware of what's going on around you. Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.

Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Don't overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.

Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.

If a Stranger Comes to the Door
Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts, so be cautious when accepting a package.

I's not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there's no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you aren't satisfied, don't give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.

These great tips were sent out last year by Commander Jacob Kishter:

Here’s what you can do to protect your MAIL from thieves:

  1. Get a tracking number from the shipping company.
  2. Require a signature with the delivery.
  3. If you won’t be home, have the company leave the package at a local shipping center.
  4. Set up an obvious surveillance camera with your home security system.
  5. If UPS is making the delivery, get onboard with their U.P.S. My Choice program, which sends an email or text message to the customer just prior to package arrival; it will be rerouted if nobody is home.
  6. Insist that the driver leave the package in an inconspicuous area.
  7. Have the driver leave the package at your apartment’s or condo’s office.
  8. Retrieve your mail as quickly as possible after delivery.
  9. If you can’t retrieve it daily, have a trusted person get it.
  10. If you’re traveling, have the post office hold your mail until you get back.
  11. Never received mail you were expecting? Contact the sender to see if it was sent. If so, file a complaint with the post office. This also applies if the contents of mail are missing.
  12. Bring your checks or money orders to a postal collection box (personally give it to a postal worker) for the delivery driver to pick up; don’t leave checks or money orders in your home mailbox.
  13. Never leave packages outside your door.
  14. Alert recipients of your packages as to when they are to expect them.
  15. Insure any packages you send.
  16. Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes (as well as homes). 

If you observe a mail thief at work, call the local police immediately, and then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.

Along with notifying MPD, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service advises the following:

If you believe your mail was stolen, report it immediately to your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector. You’ll be asked to file a formal complaint using PS Form 2016, Mail Theft and Vandalism Complaint. By analyzing information collected from the form, Postal Inspectors may determine whether your problem is isolated or part of a larger mail theft problem in your neighborhood–and it may help Postal Inspectors locate and apprehend the thieves.

Consult with your local postmaster for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes, including the availability of locked centralized or curbside mailboxes.

If you feel that you are a victim of a crime involving the mail, submit an on-line complaint at Report Mail Theft.

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.



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