Remaining Alert During The Holidays

By: Sheriff Carmine Marceno

It’s that time of year!  Lee County population swells with guests and tourists.  Our restaurants and retail stores are brimming with activity, with shoppers and long lines.

While many of us have visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, there are others with less pleasant thoughts…criminals and thieves.

When out dining or shopping…please avoid complacency.

While we are out and about enjoying the season and each other’s company, less scrupulous individuals are watching and waiting for their victims to become inattentive and vulnerable.

Thieves make their moves when you are not focused on your purse, your wallet, your shopping bags, your cell phone.  Their criminal partners may even cause a distraction…bumping into you, asking directions or posing a question, making a loud noise that attracts your immediate attention.  When occupied or looking in another direction, one is additionally vulnerable.

Purses left hanging from the back of restaurant seats or left in unattended shopping carts are extremely susceptible to theft.  Place handbags on your lap or between your feet while dining.  Never leave your bag open or in the shopping cart child-seat.  Inevitably, you will reach for an item on a shelf, compare prices or search for a particular product.  In those brief moments, your purse is accessible to thieves.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or utilizing ATMs alone during the evening hours and/or in poorly lit areas.  Be certain that you are not being followed when departing from ATMs.

Lastly, do not leave purchases, firearms or other valuables unattended or in plain sight in parked vehicles.  Thieves scour parking lots looking for valuables and removing them takes mere seconds.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has increased patrols and added significant resources throughout the county for the holiday season. Sheriff Carmine Marceno is committed to keeping all residents, guests and visitors safe.

Let us all be careful and aware and have a wonderful holiday season!

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