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Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Police Offer Tips for Making Holidays Safe

You’d better watch out—and not just because Santa Claus is coming to town. VIPD officials Tuesday urged residents to keep an eye out for crime, both for their own protection and that of their neighbors.

There are grinches out there ready to spoil the holidays with theft and violence, and the police need residents to be on the watch and to exercise some simple precautions to help foil them.

“Be a nosy neighbor,” said St. Croix Chief Oakland Benta, one of a host of VIPD officials who spoke at a press conference Tuesday morning to promote safety during the holidays. Residents should keep an eye on the neighborhood and pay attention to strange cars and individuals, taking note of descriptions and license plates.

"The holidays can bring out criminals who are looking to prey on revelers," said VIPD Commissioner Novelle Francis.

“Unfortunately, there are people in our community who are entertaining thoughts of harm and destruction for toward their fellow man,” Francis said. “We are mindful that too often acts of violence have marked the closing of the year in the Virgin Islands.”

The commissioner also noted that while most people enjoy the holidays, some members of the community find themselves alone and depressed. He urged them not to isolate themselves, or turn to alcohol or drugs.

Finally, he issued a stern warning to people who mark the beginning of the New Year by firing shots randomly into the air. Those bullets have to come down, and there’s always a chance that they could hit someone.

“This practice of discharging shots is illegal and is a very dangerous habit that could easily take the life of an innocent child,” he said. “If you or anyone you know may be planning to shoot random shots into the air on New Year’s Eve, please do your best to discourage this behavior. The VIPD has a plan in place to identify and arrest violators.”

Francis, Benta, St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island Chief Rodney Querrard and other members of the department also presented safety tips that residents should keep in mind when at home or on the town during the holidays.

The Twelve Rules of Christmas Safety

– Don’t drink and drive. If out celebrating the holidays, make sure you have a designated driver or take a cab.

– Always lock up the house when going out. Make sure doors and windows are secure.

– Leave exterior lights on so thieves don’t have dark places to hide.

– Leave a few interior lights on, and change them every night. Even better, consider a timer to have lights and electronics going on and off at night, giving the impression that someone is home.

– Don’t throw boxes and packaging from Christmas gifts, especially expensive gifts, out front with the trash. That’s like leaving a menu for potential burglars. Instead, tear up or break up the packaging and take it to a trash transfer station or, even better, recycle it.

– Keep a watch on your neighborhood, noting suspicious or unusual cars, people or activities. If possible, note down license numbers.

– Communicate with your neighbors. Let them know if you’re going out or off island, and who should and shouldn’t be around your house in your absence. Do the same for them.

– When going out for holiday events, always try to park in well-lit places.

– Make sure your cars doors and windows are locked, and there’s nothing out in plain sight that would attract thieves.

– When attending functions, walk in groups.

– When out, be aware of your surroundings and where potential trouble might come from.

– If something doesn’t feel right, either at home or out on the town, don’t be afraid to call 911 and ask for assistance.

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