By Eric S. Hicks, Master Police Officer

As we enter the holiday season, the majority of us are singing along with holiday music, spending time with family, and shopping. We aren’t focusing on our personal safety, and the safety of our home. As a Law Enforcement Professional, NRA Instructor & North Carolina Concealed Carry Instructor, I would like to share several tips to help keep you, your family, and your home safe this holiday season.

Unfortunately the criminal element this time of the year is focused on taking advantage of people distracted by the holiday season. We see criminal activity rise along with your chance to falling victim to these crimes.

These offenders will choose homes, vehicles etc, because there is high reward with little risk. We can collectively reduce the offender(s) opportunity by a common sense approach to what we all work so hard for;

Home alone:
“Our home is our Castle”
• Let’s practice what we preach to our children; “Don’t answer the door for strangers”.
• If you answer the door, control the conversation. Do not exit your residence. Only open the door partially.
• Use window décor to your advantage to conceal not only your property but to allow you to observe the outside of the residence
• Keeping scrubs trimmed
• Motion sensor lighting

While away from home:
• Always make your home appear as if it is occupied
• Leave exterior and interior lights on(a timer works well)
• Try to leave a television or other electronic devices on in the home
• Keep blinds/curtains pulled too
• Leave a vehicle in the driveway(if available)
• Have a friend or neighbor collect your mail and newspapers

• Make sure your vehicle in good operating condition as the weather gets cooler to avoid any possible issues while traveling
• Be vigilant of your surroundings
• Park in well-lit areas in parking lots
• Keep your purchases left in the vehicle hidden out of sight (remember criminals will case the parking lot)
• Ask for an escort from the merchant if you feel unsafe

Keeping you SAFE:
• Keep your vehicle keys in your hand and stay vigilant of your surroundings
• Avoid carrying large handbags or multiple items, keeping your hands free
• Carry your purse across your chest
• Use credit or debit cards to make your purchases this way you are not in possession of large amounts of cash
• Shop with a friend or family member
• If approached by a stranger stay calm and don’t show any weakness
• Obtain a basic self defense course from a certified instructor

Social media has been introduced into our lives becoming an essential form of communication and entertainment for many of us. I would stress, and evidence shows, that many victims have been victimized based on the various types of information they have posted via social media. As we go through the holiday season remember to think before you send it. Use caution when posting daily or weekly events because you open the door for opportunity to become a possible victim.

In closing I would like to say “Thank You” to Triad Moms on Main for allowing me the privilege to share these tips with you. The Hicks Family would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!!

Do not hesitate, please call 911 if you need immediate assistance from Law Enforcement.