As the end of 2021 approaches, there is no shortage of distractions: wintry weather, last-minute shopping, planning gatherings with family and friends, or looking forward to a break from school or work. Unfortunately, this time of year also presents opportunities for criminals to strike and it's key to not let those distractions make you more vulnerable to crime.

To protect yourself, your loved ones, and your home this holiday season, follow these safety tips from the Iowa City Police Department:

At Home

  • Always lock doors and windows when you're not home. 
  • Keep your garage doors closed if you're not inside the garage. 
  • Don't leave expensive-looking gifts in plain view. This can make your home a more appealing target for burglars.
  • Packaging for items such as electronics, gaming systems and other expensive items should not be put out on the curb until your collection day.
  • Report suspicious activity. Neighbors are often the best judges of if something seems out of place. If you see a suspicious person or vehicle, contact police.
  • Avoid porch theft: have packages delivered to the office or a P.O. box, sign up for delivery notifications, require a signature for deliveries, or install a security camera.

When Shopping

  • Be mindful of your surroundings, especially at night. 
  • Try to park in well-lit areas.  
  • Don't leave valuables - purses, electronics or similar items -  on the seat in plain view. If possible, lock your purchases in the trunk of your vehicle. 

When Leaving Town

  • Be sure to lock your doors before leaving for an extended period of time. 
  • Make your home look occupied while you're away - have your mail stopped and newspapers or other deliveries picked up by a neighbor, set lights on a timer, and arrange for someone to clear any snow from your sidewalk or driveway.
  • Let your neighbors know when you'll be away and if anyone is coming by to check on your residence. 

Finally, whether you're attending an office party, holiday gathering or ringing in the new year, remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving. If you are impaired, make sure you have a designated driver or use a ride share to get home safely.

Date of publication

Wednesday, December 15, 2021