Police Aim for Safe Holiday Season

Howard County police are increasing their presence at county businesses and on roads to ensure residents stay safe this holiday season. Officers will be increasing patrols in cars, on foot and on bicycles, both in uniform and in plainclothes, through New Year’s Day. Officers will also be riding HowardTransit buses in uniform and plainclothes to emphasize safety for riders. The increased police presence aims to deter robberies, shoplifting, thefts and associated crimes at malls, shopping centers and on main streets. Officers will aggressively enforce traffic laws with attention to drunken and drugged driving, speeding, parking violations and seat belt and child safety seat laws. There will also be an emphasis on enforcing underage drinking laws.

As many people prepare to travel, police are reminding residents to secure their homes. As many as 60 percent of recent county burglaries have been committed in homes that were left unlocked or open. Be sure to always lock all doors and windows at all times, whether home or not. Garage doors should always be closed and locked before residents go to bed in the evening.

During December, which is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, police will be conducting multiple DUI saturation patrols and at least one DUI checkpoint. Police encourage anyone who sees an impaired driver to immediately call 911.

County residents are advised to be more careful, prepared and alert during the holiday season. McGruff the Crime Dog will be visiting local shopping centers to share crime prevention messages, including the following tips:

• When shopping, travel with a group or in pairs, and shop during the day.
• Stay alert, especially when carrying packages or walking in a parking lot or garage.
• Avoid carrying too many packages and leave one hand free to access keys or a phone quickly.
• Park in a well-lit parking space and select an area where there are other cars and foot traffic.
• Don’t leave cell phones, purses or other valuables in a parked car – especially in plain view.
• When loading packages into the car, use the trunk instead of the back seat, or make an extra trip home in between  shopping trips to unload packages.
• Beware of strangers approaching you unsolicited. If you feel uncomfortable, walk in another direction. If possible, walk
back toward the store or toward another person.
• If you are expecting a delivery, ask a neighbor to bring the packages inside if you will not be home.
• When the holidays are over, don’t put boxes for electronics or valuables in plain view on recycling day. Collapse boxes, and put them in your recycling cart or bind them with rope or tape to prevent attracting a burglar.
• ALWAYS close and lock all doors and windows in your home. No exceptions.

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