Charleston Police discuss tactics for holiday crime prevention
During the hustle and cheer of the holiday season, it’s easy for people to drop their guard while out shopping. And, while the Charleston Police Department Year End Compstat Report for 2017 shows December to be a quiet month for incidents, the 2016 and 2015 reports show the happiest time of the year as being relatively busy for nonviolent criminal activity, like burglaries.
“Holiday seasons are usually crimes of opportunity,” said Senior Police Officer Nicholas Brown with CPD Crime Prevention. “We hate to talk about them, but they happen—your robberies, of course your car break-ins, and also when it comes to the sheer number of people on the street, you’re going to incur a lot of people that are looking for the easy targets.”
The seasonal robberies, armed robberies, and simple assaults stem from citizens putting themselves at risk, instead of staying alert.
“When you have a large population of folks that come out to a mall or come out to different businesses that are retail, we often don’t think about the criminal element,” said Brown “The criminal element are doing what we’re doing. They’re shopping as well, but they’re shopping with a different mindset.”
In addition, crimes pertaining to identity can also rise during the holiday season.
“There are a lot more people out and about trying to use skimmers on ATM machines, gas pumps, and things of that nature,” Brown stated.
Luckily, the officer said that the solution to all of these potential situations is very simple.
“Pay attention. Be more observant this time of year,” he commented. “If you get a gut feeling and you think something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.”
Some supplementary suggestions provided include keeping your cell phone fully charged and putting anything valuable in the trunk of your car where it can’t be seen.
“When it comes to having kids with you, make sure you have up to date photos, IDs in place,” Brown continued. “Use the buddy system, especially when you’re in a large crowd of people.”
Brown added that citizens should also stay alert while shopping online.
“We just had Cyber Monday, we just had Black Friday. When it comes to those things, be cognizant of those bank accounts, those credit card accounts, things that are happening via internet-base,” he said. “Because we do understand that, when you talk about the higher echelon criminal element, they work behind computer screens.”
“Don’t get in a rush because a lot of times when we get in a rush, we usually miss that minute little insignificant thing that can be the difference between a small incident or losing thousands of dollars, getting into an assault, becoming a victim,” Brown said.
Lieutenant James Byrne of CPD Team 5 said that while Daniel Island has not historically seen a large increase in burglaries, thefts from motor vehicles, DUIs, credit card fraud, and identity theft increased during the 2017 holiday season.
“The big things are, of course, take the valuables out of the vehicles, remove things from sight, use the locks that came with your vehicles or houses. Lock things up,” said Byrne.