In the classic Dr. Seuss story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” the bitter Grinch devises a wicked scheme to steal all the presents from the joyful Christmas-loving residents of Whoville; but after realizing the Whos care more about the Christmas spirit than presents, the Grinch has a change of heart and gives the gifts back.
In the real world, however, thieves’ hearts don’t grow three sizes and they usually don’t atone for their ways by giving back the items they stole, which is why law enforcement agencies hope residents are cautious during the holidays and protect themselves, their homes and their gifts from thieves.
“It’s a sad thing to see, but people do take advantage of others during this time,” said Hanford Police Officer Jared Cotta.
Cotta said an important thing to remember is to not post on any social media that you will be out of town or going on vacation. He said this information could end up in the wrong hands and could lead to break-in while you are gone.
Cotta said an easy thing to do is leave a light on or a television on in the house to make it look like there is someone home at night. He also said to get a trusted family member, friend or neighbor to watch the house or regularly check on it if you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time.
Holiday shopping can also be an issue for people who go from place to place and have no other option than to leave gifts inside their car in the parking lot.
Cotta said it’s important to be vigilant and always lock your car doors, and if possible, leave the gifts in an enclosed area like the trunk or under the seats where they are not easily visible. He said it’s not uncommon for thieves to look through the windows of cars, see shopping bags in the backseat and break the windows to quickly steal whatever is inside.
He said it’s also important to take precautions and park cars in a well-lit section of the parking lot and to try and walk in a well-lit path.
“We’re doing extra area checks around the mall,” Cotta said, adding there will be more police cars going around neighborhoods to patrol as well.
Mark Bevens, a Kings County Sheriff’s commander, said one of the biggest issues is packages that are delivered to houses. He said there haven’t been many problems with stolen packages this year, but thefts of this kind do tend to rise during this time of year.
Bevens said to track packages online and make sure you’re going to either be home when they arrive or soon after they arrive. He said another option would be to tell family members, friends or neighbors to pick the packages up if you can’t.
Both Bevens and Cotta said to call the police on a non-emergency line if you see any suspicious persons or activities going on, or if you have been a victim of theft.