Benton badge 1There is at least one Grinch, if not more, in every community looking for opportunities to steal the joy from families this holiday season. To help families avoid being sought out by a Grinch, the Benton Police Department is passing along a few safety precaution tips to help keep you and your property safe.
We also want to educate our citizen’s about what they can do to help prevent themselves from becoming a victim while out doing their last minute shopping. 
Some of the ideas and tips we are trying to convey when you’re out shopping are:
• When shopping, use the buddy system. The old adage there is strength in numbers holds true.
• Park in well lighted areas if you shop at night.
• Don’t leave packages in plain view for criminals to see.
• Lock your doors and don’t leave “tempting” items within view (phones, iPad, purses, wallets, headphones, etc.)
• If you don’t have a trunk, then carry a trash bag (not clear) with you and place your packages in them. This at least makes them less appealing to criminals.
• Don’t wear expensive jewelry while shopping, because it will attract unwanted attention from criminals.
• Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you. Credit cards are safer to use, because if they are lost or stolen you are only liable for a small amount if it’s used illegally.
Our department is taking extra steps to help prevent personal crimes and also property crimes that occur during this time of year, including with this month’s Back in Your Business initiative. This will be achieved through extra patrols of both residential and business areas throughout the holiday season. We also hope it can be done by following a few safety tips presented below.
Some ideas we would like to convey on keeping your personal property safe are:
• Do not let strangers into your home. If contacted by someone claiming to be a business, even claiming to have conducted work at your home previously, and you are unsure, have them re-contact you after you have had time to check if their business license is reputable.  A stranger may attempt to coerce their way into your home to commit a crime, so do not let the strangers use the restroom, etc., especially if you are home alone.
• Lock your doors and windows, and keep the blinds down so that criminals cannot see inside the home.
• Don’t leave empty boxes your gifts came in by the curbside (computer, TV, etc.), instead break them down and put them in your trashcan.
• If you are leaving town put automatic timers on your lights to convey that “lived in look.”
• Have a trusted neighbor or friend gather your mail or newspapers, or have them temporarily stopped if you don’t have somebody to collect them. 
• Lock your vehicle when you park it outside your residence. Park it near outside lighting if possible, or near motion lights if you have them.
• If you have an alarm system make sure you use it and post signs outside announcing that you have one because chances are they will move on to somebody who doesn’t.
• If you’re going to be gone for an extended time period you can request extra patrol of your residence by calling 501-776-5948 or 501-778-1171 or request a home security check through the official Benton Police Department app found on iTunes and Google Play.
A good way to help keep criminals from ruining Christmas is in your hands. If you observe something suspicious and are not sure whether you should dial 911 to report it we strongly encourage you to do so. We would rather investigate something that turns out to be nothing than run the risk of missing criminals in the act. 
Don’t let the Grinch steal your Christmas this year by following these ideas and staying safe. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Benton Police Department.